‘A perfect storm of issues’: councillors, mayor and MP respond to Burgess Hill flooding concerns

Town and county councillors and Burgess Hill’s town mayor have responded to residents’ concerns about flooding, subsidence and potholes on Mill Road in Burgess Hill.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 12:10 pm

Leader of Burgess Hill Town Council Robert Eggleston said that the area around Mill Road and Station Road has had problems with flooding and subsidence for many years.

The Lib Dem councillor, who represents the area on the Town and District Council, added: “It is obviously very disheartening for residents who have been battling with the two principal agencies – West Sussex County Council and Southern Water – to find a solution.”

“The area suffers from a perfect storm of issues which all impact on each other,” he said.

Residents and councillors have raised concerns about flooding, subsidence and potholes on Mill Road in Burgess Hill. Picture: Google Street View.

“Some of the drainage and highways infrastructure is in a poor condition with maintenance and repairs that have not provided long term solutions and this is made worse by near annual subsidence that breaks up the road surface.”

Mr Eggleston said he also suspects that climate change is leading to wetter winters and drier summers, which makes areas like Mill Road and Station Road more susceptible to damage.

“What is needed is serious capital investment in this local road and drainage network to fix the infrastructure once and for all rather than relying on temporary patch-up solutions,” he said.

He said that Burgess Hill Town Council was ‘well aware of the problems’ in the area and hoped that funding through Operation Watershed would become available to bring relief to residents.

Richard Cherry, West Sussex County Councillor for Burgess Hill East, said he first reported flooding on the Mill Road roundabout to West Sussex County Council Highways on November 6

“I reported developments, as the conditions on the roundabout deteriorated, several times after that,” he said.

Mr Cherry added that the issue was tracked down to a leak in South East Water’s water supply system, which they fixed last week.

But he said there is ‘little doubt’ that Burgess Hill’s main roads are ‘in a bad way’.

“The massive amount of housing development in the area and the heavy traffic associated with it certainly doesn’t help, nor do the continual budget cuts to road maintenance,” said Mr Cherry.

“We have yet to see the impact of the Conservative Government’s cut of £399 million, announced in October, to the Department of Transport’s funding to local authorities for pothole repairs,” he added.

“It is against this background that West Sussex County Council Officers are working hard to keep our road in some sort of reasonable state.”

Burgess Hill town mayor Anne Eves said that there had been a ‘sink hole’ at the roundabout on Mill Road where ‘water was gushing out, then freezing over’.

But, she said, South East Water reacted quickly to fix it.

“There is a different problem further up Mill Road with long-term, habitual flooding,” said Ms Eves.

She added: “The general condition of road surfaces around Burgess Hill, such as Church Road, but also Junction Road, London Road, Keymer Road and Leylands Road, is appalling – and particularly dangerous for cyclists.”

She also said that almost every resident attending a councillor surgery on Saturday (November 27) had complained about potholes.

The town mayor raised the issue of flooding in Burgess Hill in summer when Freeks Lane and Dumbrills Close were hit by ‘the worst flood in at least ten years’.

Regarding the flooding in Mill Road, a West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the historic and ongoing drainage concerns in Mill Road, Burgess Hill, and recently carried out CCTV investigations to the highway drains to see if any remedial works could be done to reduce the risk of future flooding.

“The surveying has shown that work is required to some old drainage infrastructure. This is at the planning stage and will be carried out early in the New Year.

“Whilst every effort will be made to try to ensure the highway drains work to their maximum capacity, it is only right to point out that heavy and prolonged rainfall can overwhelm any surface water drainage system, leading to localised flooding. Previous surface water flooding in Mill Road has occurred at locations identified as high risk on the Environment Agency’s flood risk maps.”

Speaking about the potholes in Burgess Hill, a West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “We take the maintenance and repair of roads in West Sussex very seriously and have a duty to take reasonable steps to maintain our highway network.

“We inspect our roads and pavements on a programmed basis in line with national guidance. Significantly-sized potholes, or other defects, are then prioritised for repair according to a published set of criteria, which can be found online, together with how to report a pothole.”

Mid Sussex MP Mims Davies welcomed the news from West Sussex County Council that work is planned for early next year to fix the issues.

“My casework team have supported those deeply frustrated residents who have approached me to help progress works to rectify both highway and foul water flooding, she said.

“This is very welcome news with both WSCC and Southern Water now working together with a greater focus.”

“I now understand from one such resident that Southern Water have also programmed work for a ‘flood door’,” added Ms Davies.

“I will continue to monitor this situation as work progresses to ensure further assistance is offered if needed and so residents can finally get closure on this matter, which I am delighted to see positive movement on due to the care and attention of councillor Joy Dennis working with my hardworking casework team.”