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Flood-hit residents' fury over drains

Roads Service blasted on litter and foul smell

By Sam McBride

Almost three months after flood waters enveloped swathes of east Belfast, drains are still filled with litter, residents today claimed.

Drains in two of the streets worst hit by the floods - Ardgowan Street and Carrington Street - contain litter, polystyrene and in one case, a large piece of wood. Several have weeds growing undisturbed.

Residents said they have not seen the drains being cleaned for years.

However, the Department of Regional Development insists Roads Service regularly cleans the drains.

Victor Egerton, who has lived in Carrington Street for 63 years, said the blocked drains were a disgrace.

"I've never seen anyone out to clean the drains in years," he said.

"Years ago the men used to come round with a hand cart and open up each drain to clean it, but now we're paying our rates for nothing."

Mr Egerton said one grating in particular gave off a foul smell at certain times of the day.

"The sludge seems to be just seeping away instead of flowing away and the smell is terrible," he said.

Castlereagh councillor Michael Copeland said the current cleaning schedules were unacceptable.

"Why do no people see them out cleaning the drains if they are doing it? " he said. "When I visited these streets last week I saw a substantial number of drains which appeared blocked.

"How much litter will have built up in these drains by the time they are cleaned?"

A DRD spokeswoman said Roads Service inspected the streets' drains after they were told of the problem.

"There was evidence of floating litter/detritus lying on the surface of the water in the gullies," she said.

"This is common in all gullies and occurs with the first rainfall washing litter from the surrounding roadway into the gullies after they are cleaned and would be removed in the next routine cleaning.

"The large piece of wood must have been placed there by an unknown third party as it would be impossible for it to have got into the gully pot without someone opening the gully lid."

The spokeswoman said weeds could grow to maturity within 10 days and the weeds discovered would be removed when the drain was next cleaned.

"All urban road gullies are inspected and cleaned between once and twice each year. All areas worst hit by the recent floods were specifically targeted for an extra clean unless they were due to be cleaned under the routine cleaning schedule.

"Ardgowan Street was cleaned in September 2006 and had an extra clean done on July 25 in response to the flooding.

"Carrington Street was last cleaned in January 2007 and is setd to be cleaned in the routine schedule during September.

"None of the gullies in these streets, apart from two which have a blockage below ground, also identified under the routine cleaning, and are awaiting investigation and repair, are either partially or wholly blocked."

Belfast Telegraph


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