MP demands answers over Gdynia Way flood
A CITY MP has written to South West Water and council leader Tudor Evans, demanding to know why a new road was incapable of handling this week's flooding, writes Keith Rossiter.
Gdynia Way, the main route into Plymouth from the east, was closed by flooding for more than seven hours on Wednesday.
On Thursday drivers were faced with more chaos as the deluge continued, closing the road for a second time.
"It's utterly appalling that the rain came down and the city hasn't been able to cope with it," Oliver Colvile, the MP for Sutton and Devonport, said.
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Gdynia Way has been open less than a year after a multi-million pound revamp that left local traders fuming.
Mr Colvile said: "A lot of Government money has been spent on this road and local businesses were badly affected. I am just stunned that we may have to go through the whole thing again."
He said that if the road had to be dug up again he would fight to ensure that the council pays "proper" compensation to businesses hit by the disruption.
Engineers from South West Water last night sent a camera into the drains and overflowing sewer to try to identify the cause of the problem.
A spokeswoman for the company said they were "very much hoping" it was a blockage which could be dealt with there and then.
"We believe the problem is entirely unconnected with the new road layout," she said. "We have had a lot of rain recently and this is the first time this has happened which is why it took us somewhat by surprise. It indicates to us that the problem has happened recently.
"The working hypothesis is that it is a blockage or partial collapse, most probably something that has happened relatively recently."
Plymouth City Council, which came under fire after the initial road closure, said the flooding on the road was not linked to the £19million East End Transport Project, which began in 2010 to improve traffic flows in the area.
A council spokesperson said: "South West Water now believes that there may be a problem with the network in this area beyond the extremely bad weather, such as a sewer collapse or serious blockage. The company will be surveying the sewer to locate the damage and arrange to carry out any necessary repairs.
"Plymouth City Council would like to make it clear that the flooding this week was in no way related to the flooding that historically affected this road.
"Previous flooding was caused by inadequate highway surface water drainage and this was successfully resolved as part of the £19million investment in the East End.
"Prior to starting work on the East End scheme, Plymouth City Council consulted with all the local utility companies to ensure they carried out any necessary alterations to their apparatus, as well as give them the opportunity to include any future proposed works they had planned.
"South West Water carried out various diversion works necessary to accommodate the East End Scheme.
"There were no known problems with the sewer on Gdynia Way at that time."
South West Water will be holding a meeting this afternoon to discuss the findings from last night's investigations.