£15k clean-up cost and four days of work to avoid flood risk in the City

A photo of a blocked culvert underneath the City of Southend-on-Sea shows how natural debris along with dumped rubbish can create a real flood risk.

The opening to a culvert that is blocked by household waste and fallen plant waste.

Culverts run underneath Southend-on-Sea to allow water to pass underneath and acts as an overflow when it is raining. There are certain pinch-points where debris swept along with heavy rainfall can collect and get stuck.

This particular incident created a blocked culvert, which is underneath the A127, where Prittlebrook Greenway crosses Victoria Avenue, and as the photo shows, rubbish and debris completely blocked the 6ft wide tunnel.

It cost the council £15,000 and took four days in October 2022 to clear the debris, and in amongst the natural waste of leaves and branches, there were mattresses, a trolley and sadly, a dead cat.

Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for public protection, said: “I think it’s awfully sad that some poor owner could be missing their pet cat and it’s been stuck in this blockage.

“It goes to show the true cost of fly-tipping and how dumping rubbish instead of disposing of it properly, has a knock-on effect. It would take longer for the natural debris, tree branches and leaves to collect and create blockages if the mattresses and trollies hadn’t also been there.

“Aside from the flooding risk this blockage caused, an innocent animal has died and it’s cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds to fix. Some of the engineers at the council have carried out this sort of work for many years and none of them had seen a blockage like this – it really is quite incredible it got this bad.”

As a result of this blocked culvert, the engineering teams at Southend-on-Sea City Council have increased their inspection regime so that problems and possible blockages can be found sooner.

The council works closely with the Environment Agency, who is responsible for managing flood risk, and this partnership work helps to avoid flooding risks wherever possible for the safety of residents.

Cllr Terry added: “Residents can also do their bit. If you see rubbish in the Prittlewell Brook, whether a tree branch or a trolley, please report it on My Southend. And please dispose of your rubbish responsibly, there really is no excuse for fly-tipping and if caught, we will prosecute.”

Fly-tipping is a criminal offence under section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Offenders can be given a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice for small-scale fly-tipping.

You can find out more about fly-tipping on our web page.

You can find out more about bulky waste collections on our Bulky waste web page.

You can find out more about our household waste and recycling centres otherwise known as ‘the tip’, on our web page.

Photos can be found on our Flickr site.

Published: 8th March 2023

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