FED-UP residents of a street blighted by severe flooding believe they’ve found the source of the problem - but say their calls for action are falling on deaf ears.
Families living on Lang Avenue, Lundwood have had to endure destructive floods on at least four separate occasions since the shock floods of 2007.
Even in situations where rainfall isn’t heavy enough to cause the nearby River Dearne to burst its banks, many can wake up to waterlogged gardens.
This, say a group of residents determined to tackle the issue themselves, is due to a nearby drain which is blocked and damaged, and spews water out onto the fields to the east of the street when there is a significant downpour - and sometimes even when there isn’t.
A raft of funding has been directed towards the street - from the Sheffield City Region and, most recently, a £1m allocation in Barnsley Council’s budget - but without solving the root of the problem, this money could fail to alleviate their concerns.
Chris Allen, who’s lived on the street for seven years, has spent two years pursuing Freedom of Information requests and gathering evidence after noting that ‘it became clear that the issue is not, as many believe, the River Dearne bursting its banks which causes this flooding’.
The 71-year-old said if that was the case, the whole of Lundwood would be flooded due to the geography of the land.
“The problem appears to be this drain and Yorkshire Water,” he told the Chronicle.
“I have endoscopic photos that show it’s either blocked or broken, but they haven’t even looked at it.
“When it rains heavily, the drain pumps water out up to ten feet high in the air, onto a field that’s already waterlogged with rain - it’s like turning a tap on when the bath is full.
“The fact is there’s something drastically wrong with the drainage. It goes around in circles - the council blames Yorkshire Water who blame the Environment Agency.”
He and 38 residents have signed a complaint to the Consumer Council for Water after their attempts to raise the issue with authorities haven’t led to a solution.
It’s still unclear what the council’s £1m ‘resilience spending’ will entail.
“Barnsley Council might spend money on improving drains on the road, but it’s not going to solve the problem,” said Chris.
“Our gardens can flood when it hasn’t rained - once, we were on holiday and had a phone call to say the back garden had flooded.
“It hadn’t rained for three weeks.
“We know you can’t stop flooding per se - but the amount we get it is bordering on ridiculous.
“It’s a nice place to live and we don’t want to move - but I know at least two who moved out because they couldn’t stand it.
“If your home’s privately owned then it’s difficult to get insurance.
“Our house value has dropped £20,000 since we bought it.”
A government flood risk summary shows a high risk of surface water - the responsibility of Barnsley Council - for Lang Avenue but low risk of river flooding, which would come under the remit of the Environment Agency.
Lang Avenue, along with the nearby Monk Bretton Priory, is classified as flood risk category two - the second most serious - by the Environment Agency.
But the Friends of Monk Bretton Priory group said the historic site has never experienced flooding and urged a rethink.
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis has been in contact with Yorkshire Water, and said: “It is hugely welcome that flood defence funding for Lang Avenue has been approved.
“Once complete, the Lundwood Flooding Action Scheme will make a real difference to the lives of local residents who have been affected by flooding for far too long.
“I am in regular contact with Barnsley Council, Berneslai Homes, Yorkshire Water, the Environment Agency and others about flooding in Lundwood.
“It is vitally important there is a multi-agency response that tackles the source of this issue.”