Chorley Council says Southport Road flooding was "avoidable" but "many requests" for repairs went unheeded

Shocking scenes of severe flooding in Southport Road has led a frustrated Chorley Council to go public with its dissatisfaction with its county hall counterparts today (January 20).

By Matthew Calderbank
Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 9:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st January 2021, 7:48 am

The town council said recent flooding would have been "avoidable" with "regular maintenance" and said it had repeatedly urged Lancashire County Council to commit to fixing the problem "for some time".

An investigation has found that recent flooding has been caused by a blockage in the culvert running under Southport Road, which is owned and maintained by Lancashire County Council.

Chorley Council said its colleagues at county hall had failed to heed its "repeated demands" for repairs to the culvert, leading to the latest flooding crisis in Southport Road.

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Southport Road, Chorley – where the highway dips just outside Ackhurst Lodge - is expected to remain closed for several days due to severe flooding

In a damning social media post, Chorley Council said it shared people's frustration with the chaotic scenes where flood water has nearly submerged the Grade II-listed Ackhurt Lodge.

It said: "It is an example of where current local government structures don’t always provide the best service for residents.

"Issues that are of importance locally can’t always be prioritised by the county council that has pressures on its services across the county.

"The focus now is on providing a solution to the problem. We have been asking for some time for the blockage to be investigated and it has sadly led to this.

An investigation has revealed that the blockage is being caused by logs that have fallen into the river during tree felling along the River Chor, which is now restricting water flowing through the culvert under Southport Road

"Given the damage to the highway the solution will be needed immediately so the road can reopen safely."

It said it had repeatedly demanded action from the county council to address the issue of flooding at the site, but its concerns had not been met with a serious commitment to resolve the problem.

The town council added: "The issue of any debris in the culvert should have been resolved with regular maintenance and action taken on the many requests to get this sorted for some time.

"This is all very avoidable but the focus is on getting a permanent solution sorted now."

The road will remain closed "for some time", says Chorley Council

Today, Lancashire County Council said it would work with the town council to resolve the issue, which it says is due to a blockage caused by logs from tree felling along the River Chor that have washed into the culvert under the road.

It said plans are under way to remove the blockage as soon as water levels subside and its workers can safely enter the underground culvert to cut up the logs.

John Davies, head of highways, said: "We received a report before Christmas that the culvert under Southport Road was being obstructed by a large number of logs and branches which had washed into the river following tree felling operations in the area while awaiting collection.

"We have worked closely with colleagues at Chorley Borough Council and highway teams have attended and removed as much of this debris as they could, however a large log had become firmly wedged in the culvert which unfortunately they have been unable to remove and is restricting the flow of water through the culvert.

Southport Road in Chorley remains closed this evening, between Ackhurst Road and Glamis Drive, due to severe flooding

"We now need to wait until the water levels have subsided enough to allow someone to safely enter the culvert and cut up the log, however in case this is not possible to do safely, we are also looking into other options to remove the log using remotely controlled equipment."

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County Council reveal plans to fix flooding in Chorley's Southport Road

But the county council says this work is likely to take some time to complete, whilst Chorley Council warned that it might be days before the road can safely reopen.

With the town council having now secured county hall's firm commitment to urgent repair works, Chorley council chiefs say their "immediate concern" is on trying to reopen the road whilst ensuring people's safety.

Council teams will be working through the night to clear the water with pumps and help is expected to be provided from the local fire service.

Councillor Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: "We have sadly witnessed severe flooding on Southport Road, Chorley – where the highway dips just outside Ackhurst Lodge – for some years now and it is getting worse each time.

Chorley Council and the town's residents fear for the Grade-II listed Ackhurst Lodge which is nearly completely submerged by floodwater

"Many people – including ourselves, County Councillors, our MP for Chorley, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, and many residents – have demanded that Lancashire County Council take action to alleviate the problem and make sure flooding outside Ackhurst Lodge can become a thing of the past.

"However, my immediate concern – and the focus of Chorley Council's endeavours right now – is to clear away the huge volume of water to make the area safe again and reopen the road.

"Working with partners, including the emergency services, we have got a number of pumps in action to do this – with more on the way.

"I would like to pay tribute to all the people – including our own officers – who are working tirelessly in terrible conditions to help get rid of the flood water.

"Hopefully we can get a permanent solution as soon as possible and Lancashire County Council appear to have committed to this."