Beverley Westwood flood defence work halted ... by a flood
WORK on a vital flood defence wall to protect houses has been stopped – because the ground is under water.
Contractors arrived on site this week to start building a £600,000 retaining wall next to Beverley Westwood.
Its aim is to prevent a repeat of the disaster that struck properties in Willow Grove in June 2007.
But the area, which takes flood water from a huge area of the Westwood and beyond, has become a semi-permanent lake.
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Fire crews have been called out several times over Christmas and the new year to pump water away from the site. Contractors have had to continue doing the pumping.
An East Riding Council spokesman said: "We had a meeting with the contractor on Monday. They have been on site since Tuesday.
"The aim is to clear what standing water there is."
Mike Ball, principal engineer, said: "Weather permitting, we'd like to be starting work next week."
The flood water next to Willow Grove was caused partly by December's heavy rainfall flowing off the pasture but also by the underground aquifer being at its highest ever level and pushing water up through springs. The same problem led to severe flooding at Burton Fleming and other places.
At the edge of the Westwood, the drainage has been slowed by the introduction of a new £1m Yorkshire Water tank that can be used when the sewerage system cannot cope. To stop the system backing up, water is now released in the sewer at a more measured rate.
Because it was installed before the wall was built, the flooding situation has actually worsened.
Resident Les Diment said: "The water has been pretty high. We were caught at the worse possible time. One part of the project is complete but work has not started on the other part.
"Because the aquifer is totally full, the springs are gushing. It's a totally different characteristic from when the water flows off the Westwood.
"I've spoken to one of my neighbours who has lived here for 40 years and they have never seen it like this before."
Allan English, chairman of Beverley Pasture Masters, said: "It's nothing new. The Westwood has always flooded there because of the springs.
"It's just that time of year.
"If you talk to older Beverlonians, they will tell you people used to swim at the front of Willow Grove."
Despite the ongoing threat of flooding and the need for the field next to their homes to be regularly pumped out by the fire service, people in Willow Grove are happy the second part of the two- pronged scheme is to begin.
Mr Diment said: "It would be easy to be drawn into the blame culture and I would have no issue with doing that if I felt it was appropriate.
"But the engineers from East Riding Council have been excellent.
"I don't think the standing water at Willow Grove will be permanent, I think it will be temporary."