HORRIFIED residents of a Shirley Road are facing a bill running into thousands of pounds to drain floodwater from their gardens thanks to an ancient law.
Homeowners in Ralph Road have been unable to use their rear gardens for several years because of a blocked drain which runs the length of their properties.
The land is suspected of being under ‘riparian law’ which, according to former Mayor Councillor John Reeve (Lib Dem Shirley East), means its upkeep is the responsibility of the residents.
“This term means they have a responsibility to keep the water flowing and it obviously varies from garden to garden.
“I have asked officers to do some historical research and we have gathered comments from residents. It may draw a blank.
“We are trying at the moment to get the matter resolved because it clearly need to be. The problem is that the water table is rising and there has been a change in weather patterns which contributes to it.
“Some residents may also have contributed unwittingly which may have impeded the flow. For the majority of those houses we think this is the responsibility of the homeowner but if there was a practical way of solving it then I would hope the council will be able to come up with a way to do so.”
However builder Neil Cotton, who lives in Ralph Road with his wife and two young children is appalled that Soliull Council expect he and his neighbours to cough up for the drainage as he believes it is the council’s responibility.
He says he has already spent thousands of pounds trying to solve the problem.
“As soon as you get any sort of rain it floods the garden. It’s all a bit of a nightmare - in winter our gardens can’t be used at all .The council wants £8,000 from each of us to sort it out. Why should we spend that?
Pamela Halford and her children Paige, aged 15, Heather,14 and Connor aged two-and-a-half , are heartbroken at the state of their garden.
“We have lived here for about eight years and it wasn’t that bad then,” she said.
“There was flooding occasionally but it’s got worse in the last three years. It was a beautiful garden but now everything is dead. The kids never used to close their curtains because the view was so lovely”.
Neighbour Aftagur Ali, his wife Sirah and their four children have also been unable to venture into their own gardens.
Aftagur is so concerned about the dangers of the flood water that his children have been banned from playing in their garden.
“It’s too risky,” he said. “Whoever has got the highest garden has the driest garden. The council should investigate We pay our council tax, we pay enough. They have turned their backs on us.”
* What do you think? Should Solihull Council dig deep and end the misery of these families or do you think the residents should fork out thousands of pounds and clear the drainage themselves? Write or email us with your views.