THE lead councillor for flooding has admitted he does not know who was supposed to be responsible for maintaining flood defences around the Glasdir estate.
Angry residents are demanding answers as to why their homes flooded and at a meeting this week Ruthin county councillor David Smith said he wasn’t sure whether the county council or Taylor Wimpey, who built the homes, were in charge of looking after the flood defences at Glasdir.
The acknowledgement prompted a frustrated response from flood hit resident and town councillor Katy Morgan Williams, who said she has evidence showing boulders, builders’ rubble and overgrown reeds were blocking flood protection systems at Glasdir.
“Who’s responsible for the flood defences around Glasdir?,” she asked at an extraordinary meeting of Ruthin Town Council on Monday evening, called to discuss the floods.
“Is it Denbighshire County Council? Or is it Taylor Wimpey?”
Cllr Smith replied: “I don’t know.”
“If nobody knows who is responsible for it, who has been maintaining it?,” said Cllr Morgan Williams.
“I’ve had photos from people of boulders being brought out of drains around Glasdir and bricks and builders’ rubble.
“In St Asaph the water came and receded, that’s what floods do.
“But in Glasdir someone put a plug in the bath and filled it up. That water wasn’t going down,” she added.
“If you say you don’t know who’s in charge, it wasn’t going to be maintained.”
The admission came as the meeting heard some residents were refusing to move from their homes on Glasdir, despite the contamination risk left by the water.
Meanwhile, some of those who have moved are struggling to get money from insurance companies to pay for their temporary accommodation and there was another report of a family of five being housed in one room with no cooker.
In total 122 residential properties on the Glasdir estate have been affected by the flood.
Both residents and councillors say they want answers as to why the estate flooded, and why there was no warning.
A joint investigation has been launched by the Environment Agency and Denbighshire County Council into the cause.
“My concern is that there was no alarm, nobody was made aware,” said town councillor Anne Roberts.
“I would like to get some answers as to why.”
Cllr Smith added: “We need to get the facts before we can say anything.
“If residents have a problem, I ask them to let us know so we can kick ass on their behalf if needs be.”
The council has said it hopes to have interim findings from the investigation this week.
Ian Smith, a corporate manager for Taylor Wimpey, was also at the meeting and said: “I’m aware we’re in the firing line as we built the houses.
“We’re very keen to be part of the investigation and understand what can be done to prevent any reoccurrences.”
A statement issued by Denbighshire County Council this week said: “We will of course be looking at the situation and seeing whether any lessons can be learned. It is too early to say what if anything could have been done differently and we will not be commenting on speculation.
“Although final answers are not expected for several weeks, we expect interim findings to be available this week that will determine whether temporary measures would be helpful to reassure residents. We will be discussing those findings with developers Taylor Wimpey to identify what kind of assistance they could offer.
“The organisations are working together to find out the cause of the flooding, why the flood defences did not work as well as they should have and what steps can be taken to reduce the risk of any further flooding.
“Early indications in the investigations show that the flood defences and flood mitigation measures implemented at Glasdir appear to be in line with the conditions required as part of the planning process. What is not yet clear is why the flood water overtopped the defences that were put in place.”
Graham Hillier, from Environment Agency Wales said: “We will work with these communities to help us understand how we can work together to try to reduce the risk of this happening again.
“Up to three inches of rain fell in a 24 hour period in north Wales – this is half the average rainfall for November. As a result of this, the River Elwy reached record highs and overtopped flood defences which protect the area.
“Over the coming weeks we will be conducting a thorough assessment of the flood defences in the area and identifying whether repairs are required and improvements can be made for the future.”
More flood news in this week's paper.