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Storm drain problems must be fixed now

It is deplorable that residents of Sydenham and other parts of Belfast, many without insurance, have yet again had their houses and possessions destroyed. Why does this keep happening?

One answer is that the existing Sydenham storm drain cannot cope with the volume of water.

Northern Ireland Water was supposed to update the drain at Cabin Hill - with match-funding from a developer - but the work has not yet happened. This situation is not acceptable and it is preventable.

The Executive has long been aware that NI Water does not have enough funds to address serious infrastructure deficiencies in the current system.

Yet nothing has been done to address that issue and provide a modern, efficient water service which works.

There needs to be urgent progress on water infrastructure and a new funding model to prevent this happening again - including a serious consideration as to whether water charges can be deferred any longer.

The Executive needs to look at alternative models which work well in England, Scotland and Wales.

It will be too late for many homeowners in east Belfast, who have been struck once again by avoidable destruction.

They are quite entitled to be angry. Year after year, customers see that the current system is not fit for purpose - yet the Executive continues to let them down.

RICHARD BROWN

Chair, East Belfast NI Conservatives

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