Lancashire County Council has invested an extra £500,000 to ensure its highways teams are better equipped to respond to problems with blocked drains.
The cash boost agreed as part of this year’s budget will ensure that more gully cleansing vehicles are available to respond to incidents such as flooding this winter without interrupting the day-to-day work of its maintenance teams who are responsible for keeping the county’s more than 330,000 highways drains clear and working.
The council is also reminding people that many reports it receives of drains not working during the autumn and winter are due to leaves lying over the top acting as a plug, and the problem can often quickly be resolved by simply removing them.
County Councillor Charlie Edwards, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Our highways teams work year-round to maintain Lancashire’s highway drains, and with over 330,000 of them to keep on top of, it’s a major task.
“The extra money we’ve put into gully clearing this year is to make sure that vital routine maintenance is less likely to be disrupted by the need to respond to reports of blocked drains, or events such as storms, which can wash large amounts of silt into drains across an area and mean hundreds of them need attending to.
“It means that our highways teams have more gully cleansing resources available and are better equipped to ensure the drains are working properly, and respond quickly to any problems found by our inspectors or reported by the public.
“As the leaves are now falling from the trees I’d also like to remind everyone that up to 80% of reports about drains being blocked at this time of year are due to leaves sitting on top of the grate and acting as a plug, rather than a blockage within the gully itself.
“If there is a problem with water backing up, and you’re able to do so safely, please consider brushing the leaves to one side to see if that works. If that clears the blockage, please clean up the leaves and dispose of them.
“We do of course respond to all reports that we receive, but particularly during a storm when we have to prioritise the most serious flooding issues, it’s worth people knowing that drains which appear to be blocked by leaves can often be easily cleared.”
The county council has agreements in place with district councils for leaves to be swept on the highest priority roads during the autumn.
The county council has identified which drains are most important to keep clear, as well as those most prone to becoming blocked with silt and other debris. Over 112,000 highways drains are cleaned regularly as part of a cyclic programme, with those identified as highest priority cleaned annually and those of lower priority cleaned every 2 years.
All other gullies are cleaned reactively when they are identified during heavy rain by highways inspectors or reported by residents.
If a drain isn’t working, this can be due to more significant damage or collapse. In these instances, cleansing will not fix the problem and means the highways team will need to return to investigate the whole system to find the source of the issue, and design a repair.
Any problem with a drain can be reported on-the-go using the Love Clean Streets app, by visiting lancashire.gov.uk, or calling the county council’s customer service centre on 0300 123 6780.