Most will remember Storm Callum that struck in October 2018 some will not want to remember as it was bad if you were one of the many residents who unfortunately had floodwater in their property flooding was widespread throughout Cynon Valley with roads blocked the A465 Heads of the Valleys road closed at Hirwaun flooding in Aberdare Cwmbach to name but a few businesses were also affected rail travel disrupted because of floodwater. There were major problems with culverts throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf and it highlighted the problems of blocked watercourses and culverts through lack of maintenance, not all were public watercourses or culverts some were private we know there were problems with a culvert running through Tesco car park. Rhondda Cynon Taf Council (RCTC) claim they have a dedicated culvert cleaning team that operates throughout the year if that’s correct why did we see so many problems that occurred last October, ample warning was given of substantial rainfall expected? The leader of RCTC Andrew Morgan mentioned, a number of culverts throughout RCT exceed their capacity and a number of homes and businesses were consequently flooded, with some residents being evacuated as a result of the excess water. He also believed, most of the flooding came from mountain culverts and combined sewer systems. A number of culverts exceed their capacity, the question is was it because they hadn’t been cleaned out or are some culverts now out-dated due to increases in development, especially in Cynon Valley. We are regularly informed we can expect more extreme rain as we did last October so is flooding going to be a regular occurrence? The council is spending on cleaning out culverts as they have employed contractors to do the work as well as direct labour. Previous to Storm Callum RCTC spent £1.1m on a flood alleviation scheme on the Nant Gwawr in Aberaman.Now I may be clinical in thinking that RCTC only did the lower half of the Nant Gwawr at a cost of £1.1m cleaning out the watercourse raised the height of the culvert under Cardiff Road. The top half of the Nant Gwawr had no work done to it, why just the bottom half?
As I said I might be clinical but was it because all stormwater from the proposed development at Blaengwawr School will be discharged into the Nant Gwawr as proposed by the developers.
Having contacted RCTC many times when the flood alleviation scheme was ongoing requesting the top half of the watercourse needed attention but no action was forthcoming from RCTC. As a consequence of the lack of maintenance by the council to this section of the Nant Gwawr resulted in a section of the retaining wall collapsed in the watercourse, the council were well aware of the bad condition of the wall. Following the collapse of the wall a contractor was employed to reduce the height of the wall I am informed by the council’s chief executive this work is on-going, exactly how much remedial work the council will carry out remains uncertain. Brook Street was flooded 13 October 2018 a watercourse at the rear overflowed into Brook Street flooding a number of properties part of the problem was a shed had been constructed over the watercourse stopping the water flowing in its natural watercourse. The watercourse passes through an old brick culvert as it flows under Gwawr Street, the council who are responsible for this culvert have not cleaned out the culvert for many years, local residents say when they were children they used to walk through the brick culvert but now there is so much gravels and silt in the culvert you’d be lucky if a large dog can get through it. Having requested many times since the flooding in Brook Street to have the culvert cleaned out to its original invert level and also the gravels and silt cleaned out of the bed of the Nant Gwawr to achieve this end, the chief executive response was “The design of the old reduced height replacement wall has concluded that the bed of the Nant Gwawr should be kept at its current level to prevent future under scour and instability.” So basically again as usual, the council do half a job, the excuse for not cleaning out the culvert and watercourse is to prevent scouring and computer tests done by the council contractors on the culvert show all the build-up of gravel and silting make no difference to the capacity of the culvert, a culvert that kids used to walk through years ago.
Let’s not forget the council keep saying they have a dedicated culvert cleaning team, are the council using the postcode lottery system some culverts get cleaned and relined but others just like Gwawr Street are just left to silt-up and be a potential flood risk again.
This is what the council did at the lower half of the Nant Gwawr “Downstream watercourse works will entail increasing entail the capacity of the watercourses together with erosion/scour protection increasing resilience to damage during heavy storms. I contacted our labour AM 24 May 2019 to receive an Automatic reply: Flooding issues in Brook Street, Aberaman, the Labour AM never followed up my email. RCTC has refused to clean out the culvert in Gwawr Street Aberaman Chris Bradshaw Chief Executive said, “The Council’s funding is not unlimited,” There was no question of unlimited funding when the council dumped thousands of tons of waste in Cwmaman illegally, there was also no question of unlimited funding when the council used taxpayers money to remove the illegally dumped waste.
I have requested the cost of this operation in Cwmaman but as usual no information forthcoming. So this council has thousands to right the wrong they did, but no money to clean out a culvert in Gwawr Street. Don’t blame all the lack of council funding on austerity just think of the thousands wasted by this labour administration with no scrutiny when you next put your X in the box.