Culverts cause concern

Mandy Lord took these pictures of the blocked culvert at Shade
Mandy Lord took these pictures of the blocked culvert at Shade

Repair and regular cleaning of culverts is concerning residents in the aftermath of the flooding last week.

Residents in Walsden and Shade have called for improvements to cleaning and design.

At Walsden, where large amounts of debris washed down by water blocked and then broke culverting, Clough Residents Action Group have written to Calderdale Council, with copies to Northern Rail and Network Rail about the structure of the culvert.

The culvert at Clough Road had burst in the flash flooding of 2006 and, CRAG secretary Lyn Joyce writes: “At that time CRAG pointed out that to prevent future problems with the culvert some means of blocking it were necessary. A grid at the entrance to the culvert had been removed some time previously and CRAG felt a new grid to filter debris was necessary along with the construction of a settlement pit to collect the rocks etc.”

The group believes this would be more cost effective than it blocking every few years to “catastrophic” effect, a view backed by Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker.

Residents at Shade believe it took Mr Whittaker’s intervention to get a blocked culvert at Dobroyd cleared within days rather than a longer period of time. This was done by Network Rail and was another replaced after collapsing in 2006, being replaced within a couple of months but being an ongoing problem, residents trying to keep it clear. Mrs Mandy Lord said: “What we need is regular maintenance to be carried out and not just reactive cleaning following flooding. It’s too late once the damage has been done.”

A Network Rail spokesman said the culvert at Walsden was not theirs and they had suffered damage alongside the community, its teams called to the site to clear 20 tons of debris. Regarding other culverting he said: “We regularly maintain our own culverts in this area to ensure free passage of water, however a wider solution to the flooding problem in this area is required. We are working with all the agencies to come to a suitable solution.”

A Calderdale Council spokesman said: “Investigative work on the culverts in Kershaw Road and Clough Road is underway. We’re studying the catchment to find out how much water flows through the local culverted streams. This should be completed within the next seven days and will help us to decide how to prevent further flooding in the future.

“We are also talking to the utility companies and the Environment Agency to work together to find the best solution. Once we have the results we will invite local residents to a meeting to discuss our findings and plans with them. In the meantime we are also investigating ways to mitigate the effects of any further severe rainfall in the area.”

A spokesman for the EA said it had an annual maintenance programme to inspect all assets and culverts, reporting any repairs that were needed to owners or doing its own repairs and maintenance to the culverts and assets that it owned. Dobroyd culvert was owned by Network Rail, she said.

Mr Whittaker said he believed a grid was required to stop debris blocking the Clough Road culvert and would be speaking to the council’s chief executive about the issue. He urged the council to put a new culvert into the road which though expensive might not be much more so than trying to repair the old one. “Residents need assurance and repairs are needed,” he said.