‘VITAL’ work to clear gullies which were cited as a reason why Barnsley suffered two cases of severe flooding has been accelerated as a result of the ongoing lockdown, the Chronicle can reveal.

Barnsley Council bosses are working alongside the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water in a bid to speed up work on the River Dearne and Dove - both of which burst their banks in November last year and February.

Fields around each watercourse have been swamped in recent months, with the worst happening in November, but February’s incident resulted in an urgent call for action to prevent homes, many of which are unable to secure home insurance due to the flood risk.

Particular attention has been paid to homes on Lang Avenue, Lundwood, where dozens of homes were affected on both occasions.

Coun Chris Lamb, cabinet spokesman for environment and transport, said: “We’re committed to supporting communities who have been affected by the recent flooding. Since the incidents, we’ve been working closely with the Environment Agency to discuss the flooding from rivers, and we’re working with Yorkshire Water to discuss the flooding at Lang Avenue.

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“The Environment Agency maintains the River Dove and the River Dearne, and our teams have raised their concerns about the condition of these river banks. We will support the Environment Agency where we can during this difficult time.

“With less traffic currently on the roads, the Department for Transport recommends accelerating maintenance works. Our highways teams are prioritising the maintenance of our drains by cleaning and improving the drainage in locations that have experienced flooding.”

Although Barnsley Council’s recently-agreed budget proposals allocated £1.5m for the repairing and strengthening of gullies which were unable to cope with the deluge, Coun Trevor Smith said Station Road in Wombwell - which has a watercourse running underneath - remains particularly vulnerable.

He is calling for work there, and the re-positioning of gabion baskets from Netherwood Bridge, to alleviate concerns over the two river banks’ rigidity after they effectively collapsed in November where the baskets - which are filled with stone - were not positioned.

“This area of Barnsley simply must be a priority as it’s the worst-affected part of the borough,” he said. “Darfield and Wombwell are hotspots, people are concerned and they deserve better.

“Places like Darton have always seemed to be the priority but residents should not be living in fear each time it rains.

“We all know what happened in November, but we’ve been perilously close to flooding again twice this month.”

MP Stephanie Peacock, who represents Barnsley East, has criticised the government’s response to the issue and called for more funding aside from the council’s own commitment.

“People from my community are fed up with the response to the escalating risk and damage,” she added. “They want assurances that everything is being done to prevent damage at this scale from ever happening again.

“We need action urgently to help households recover from the most recent flooding and a longer-term investment plan to make our region more resilient to floods.

“I hope the government will acknowledge the level of devastation caused by flooding in South Yorkshire. We need investment urgently to support the victims and to prevent flooding such as November’s from ever happening again.”