DRAINS had not been cleaned in nearly ten months before floodwater destroyed up to 200 homes on Canvey.

Nearly a month’s rain fell on island on Sunday, July 20.

Between September and November last year, Essex Highways tackled drains in 467 roads as part of the routine annual maintenance.

Maurice Road and San Remo Road, two of the worst-hit in last month’s floods, had not been cleaned since September 24 last year.

Drains in May Avenue, which was also deluged, were cleared on September 18 and Holbeck Road had not been cleaned since October 1.

The news angered some residents who had been flooded.

Chris Harvey, 62, of Holbeck Road, said: “One of the neighbours who had to move out said it was very noticeable drains outside their property were blocked with silt.

“If they were cleaned ten months ago, why are they all blocked now?

“I’ve lived here 37 years and I’m retired but I don’t recall ever seeing any units in the area cleaning the drains.”

However, a spokesman for Essex Highways said as well as this “routine”

cleaning, officers visited on an “ad hoc” basis to deal with specific problems. The council spends £1.2million a year cleaning the county’s drains.

Since Monday, July 21, nearly 4,000 gullies have been cleared on Canvey and in Hadleigh has part of Essex Highways’ annual maintenance programme.

Rodney Bass, county councillor for highways and transportation, said: “Our crews cleaned out all the drains so surface water caused by heavy rainfall can drain away.

“Our efforts have also been focused on resolving defects on Canvey, emptying and cleaning gullies as part of our maintenance programme.”

Essex Highways aims to clean out all gullies at least once year, twice in flood-prone areas. Roads requiring special attention are returned to for further work.

Mr Bass said: “We have identified some problem areas that are receiving further investigation. Once all investigations have been completed, we can establish the next course of action.”

Benfleet and Thundersley are the next areas to be targeted and a meeting to discuss future work on Canvey is planned for September.

Bill Sharp, deputy leader of Castle Point Council, says residents must be told when work will start.

Mr Sharp said: “We need a timeline of these works. I’m delighted the county council can give some confidence to residents, but has it already linked in with Anglian Water to see what it is doing?

“Castle Point Council called the stakeholders together as everyone needs to be working together on this.

It is very frustrating.”

In a bid to help the Government investigation into the floods, the council has carried out its own research.

CALLS have been made for the drains to be cleaned at least four times a year.

Ray Howard, deputy to Mr Bass and Castle Point’s councillor for Canvey and flooding, said: “County council policy was to clean them once a year, but that has now got to stop.

“My vision is they are cleaned about four times a year.

“We are all working together and trying to get it sorted. It’s got to be done.”

Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, agreed.

He added: “It has to be done at least three or four times a year, there’s no doubt about that.

“If anything is coming out of this, it’s the proof they are not fit for purpose.”

Anglian Water, the Environment Agency, Essex County Council and the highways authority have started a detailed survey of the drainage network across the whole of Canvey.

Antony Innes, from Anglian Water, said: “We have started a programme of clearing every sewer we have in Canvey and are working with the county council to follow it down roads. It’s likely to take a couple of months to complete.”

NEARLY a month after the floods, Essex Highways drain cleaning crews were focusing their efforts in the north of the county.

A real-time drain cleaning map showed on Tuesday, August 19, how only four vehicles were out across the whole county cleaning drains in Colchester, Manningtree and Halstead.

Essex Highways is responsible for cleaning 230,000 drains across Essex.

It is also responsible for 10,976 gullies in the Castle Point area, 5,767 on Canvey, 4,327 in Benfleet and 882 in Hadleigh.

Gully cleansing costs Essex Highways about £1.2million a year.

To see where drains are being cleaned, visit: www.essex d-Pavements/Drainage-and-flooding.aspx

Essex Highways says roads highlighted by Castle Point Council chief executive David Marchant as the worst hit on Canvey were cleaned last year:

Letzen Avenue- September 26 2013

Metz Avenue- September 26 2013

Waarden Road- September 26 2013

Delfzul Road- September 25 2013

Urmond Road- September 26 2013

Denham Road- September 20 2013

Roggel Road- October 25 2013

Ouida Road- No gullies present.

Juliers Road- October 24 2013

Elm Road- October 26 2013

May Avenue- September 18 2013

Gafzelle Drive- September 13 2013

Holbek Road- October 1 2013

Hannet Road- October 1 2013