Chris Black writes:
District Councillors had a training session today on sustainable drainage systems- the systems you need to cope with the run-off of water from new developments. I’m grateful for the County Council officer, Mr Simpson, from driving from the other end of Essex to talk to us – and respond positively to some stern questioning.
Flooding and drainage are big issues for our area, and councillors need to ensure the proper schemes are installed. But it’s clear from the training session that there’s another problem. When these systems are installed, the developer usually passes them onto another company to maintain them – and that company could be based hundreds of miles away. There’s nothing to stop the responsibility being passed onto other companies in years to come. How on earth do you ensure that they are being properly maintained in 20, 40 or 60 years time?
The problem is the modern dogma of privatising everything. Things would be simpler, and safer, if developers paid a dowry to the District or County Council, and that council took them over. Or a council could set up an arms-length company to maintain them.
This isn’t a perfect solution – the County Council sometimes isn’t very good at maintaining its existing ditches, as in the picture below! But at least for the decades to come we would know who could be held accountable, instead of maybe trying to contact some obscure property company hundreds or thousands of miles away.