In a letter to the Conservative County Council, 14 town and district councillors of different party colours (13 Lib Dem, 1 Conservative) have asked Devon County council to urgently review their road gully maintenance strategy, following a summer of floods throughout the town.
Responses received by the Conservative County Council put the issues down to "tough choices". Well, nobody in Barnstaple made the “choice” of having their homes flooded and their lives ruined by overflowing drains.
Since 2012, the County Councils budget for Highways Maintenance has dropped by a whopping 40%. But that hasn’t stopped Devon County Councillors giving themselves a huge 15% pay rise. The letter from local councillors say it is "an absolute disgrace that the Tory County Councillors awarded themselves such a massive pay increase when they can’t finance the basics, like decent roads and drains."
Cllr Ian Roome (Pilton) commented:
“I was more than pleased to visit the affected areas and provide support and guidance. There have been some quite tragic stories and yet their resilience has shown through with streets helping one another in their hour of need. Well done Barnstaple. Meanwhile, I've reported, chased and urged Devon County Council to clear the gullies - to no avail."
Cllr Caroline Leaver (Newport) is using her available Councillor grant money to help:
"Its a matter of priorities. The floods on 17 August were unprecedented, with many homes flooded that hadn’t before. To use the Community Councillor Grant money I have available for this is the right thing to do. We need to help our most vulnerable in these most difficult of times."
The letter ends with a direct question to Devon County Council:
"As your town and district councillors, our job is to stand up for our communities and our neighbours and to shout about these injustices. We aren’t here to line our pockets at the expense of public services. The state of our road and drainage network in Barnstaple is shocking and we ask the County Council - what are you going to do about it?"