Yorkshire Water was accused of mounting a PR exercise yesterday after failing to provide answers to questions about the flooding of a pumping station, which is believed to have led to dozen of homes being inundated.
Two company representatives were called to a meeting in Beverley as part of a council-led investigation into events leading up to the flooding in July, affecting 300 homes and causing internal flooding in at least 40, after Carr Lane pumping station in Goole was knocked almost entirely out of action.
Residents, some of whom were flooded for a second time in 11 months, have been demanding answers and councillors passed a motion earlier this year demanding compensation for the flood victims.
An interim report by the council says the rainfall was heavy but “not beyond” what the drainage system should have been able to cope with.
Carr Lane temporarily failed in August 2011 when another deluge caused widespread flooding affecting hundreds of homes.
At the time of the latest flooding, the station was “handed over” to contractors, who were finishing off £1m worth of repairs and improvements.
The report states that for as “yet unestablished reasons” storm water coming into the pumping station got into the dry-well, which contains mechanical and electrical equipment linked both the storm and smaller pumps.
It says: “In simple terms on July 6 because nearly all the pumpsets at Carr Lane pumping station had stopped working, water found its own level within the part of the town draining to Carr Lane pumping station resulting in flooding.”
Goole councillors, who suspect human error played a part, asked questions at yesterday’s scrutiny committee meeting about an inspection cover, which they suspect may have been lifted, and the number of contractors working in the station, but were told by the representatives “they hadn’t come briefed to answer specific questions”.
Coun Keith Moore said it was a “pity” the company hadn’t been able to send someone with technical knowledge “because that is the whole purpose of today”.
Michelle Lewis, director of communications for Yorkshire Water, insisted they had “no secrets,” and said as soon as they had the technical report they would share it with the council.
Afterwards Howard Glass, who lives on Attlee Drive, and has been flooded twice in 11 months, said: “To me it was a lot of waffle. The main question is why is it taking Yorkshire Water so much time to find out what happened in that pumping station. They should have had the answers to some questions the councillors asked, and I think they have let the people of Goole down.
“I don’t think they are coming clean about what happened in Carr Lane pumping station on July 5 or 6.”
Coun Moore said: “We are five months down the road and it is not credible that they don’t have the answers to the most basic questions. It is nothing more than a PR exercise; the investment they talk about is money spent after equipment failed a second time.”
Yorkshire Water produced an email yesterday from a council manager saying their presentation would be expected to focus on “work undertaken since the flooding...rather than any technicalities concerning the causes of the flooding.” Since the flooding £3m has been spent on repairs and adding temporary pumps to increase its pumping capacity by 25 per cent. The first of two additional permanent pumps are expected to be in place by Christmas.
A company spokesman said: “This is not our investigation, this is East Riding Council’s investigation and we are playing a very full part in it and are providing every assistance possible. We understand the councillors’ frustration but it is very important not to lose sight that it is an interim report which details latest findings, rather than any conclusions, which will come next summer. We’re happy to look at any compensation claims then.”