Following heavy downpours across Harlow last week, and reports of flash floods, blocked drains and backed up sewers, Harlow’s Member of Parliament, Robert Halfon, and local Councillor, Nicky Purse, have joined forces to take Thames Water to task.
In May 2023, Harlow suffered significant flash floods following extensive rainfall, with areas like Staple Tye, Newhall and Churchgate Street badly affected. At the time, Robert raised his concerns as a matter of urgency with the Government, the Environment Agency and with Thames Water.
Heavy rainfall last week has resulted in more flooding across the town. Robert and Cllr Purse are now calling on Thames Water yet again to take the urgent action required to improve the drainage infrastructure across Harlow and prevent flooding and backed up sewers from happening again.
Commenting on the flooding in Harlow, Robert said, “It has been extremely upsetting to see the photographs of water pouring into homes as a result of the terrible flooding and apparent lack of maintenance of the drainage system. I have been made aware of countless examples of damage and destruction across the constituency, with some residents reporting backed up drains and raw sewage in their homes and gardens. One family told me that they have been flooded over forty times in recent years.
“I am working with Harlow Council and Cllr Nicky Purse, Harlow Council Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Environment, to support residents. We have requested an urgent meeting with the Chief Executive of Thames Water to hold them to account and ensure they take the action required to prevent further floods in Harlow.
“I would like to thank Cllr Purse for her hard work with Essex Highways and the Environment Agency to tackle this issue, and for her commitment to holding Thames Water to account to deliver more improvements for Harlow residents.”
Calling for more action from Thames Water, Cllr Purse said, “I am ambitious to tackle the flooding and surcharges of wastewater in Harlow that are devastating our streets, greenspaces and homes. Working with Robert Halfon MP, I will take the concerns of residents directly to the CEO of Thames Water to drive much needed action in hotspot areas, like Rivermill, Edinburgh Way and Southern Way.
“When I was appointed as the Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Environment at Harlow Council in 2021, I immediately called Thames Water and Essex Highways to meetings to ensure they were doing everything within their power to tackle flooding and to protect the environment in Harlow. These meetings continue to take place every eight weeks.
“Until the Conservatives formed an administration at Harlow Council, these meetings never took place. I would like to thank Harlow Council officials and Essex Highways for their support in delivering improvements in a very short space of time.
“Despite this, I still have concerns about Thames Water. Their routine maintenance of drainage systems and sewers in Harlow has been woefully inadequate for decades, and residents are now paying the price for Thames Water’s previous shortcomings. Our infrastructure can no longer cope with the heavy rainfall we see every year, and I will not stop until Thames Water takes urgent remedial action to address this issue.”
Local residents are reminded of the following helplines where they can report flooding and seek advice in an emergency:
- In the event of an emergency or where there is a threat to life, dial 999;
- To report flooding caused by overflowing sewers, call Thames Water on 0800 316 9800;
- To report flooding from local rivers and waterways, call the Environment Agency on 0345 988 1188;
- Where flooding is affecting roads and highways, call Essex County Council on 03456 037 631.