Letter: Is it better the devil you know?

I write in response to the letter from Mr Held (The voice of Pocklington, January 14).

Betterton Court was built on land previously occupied by R M English’s mill. It was allowed to be built in a hollow, approximately 18 inches below a line from the top of the bank of the beck to the pavement on Chapmangate.

The carpark for Betterton Court is designed to slope down away from the beck with a small exit in the low wall to allow water to flow into a gully, which separates Betterton Courtt from R M English’s Pet Shop.

When the beck level is high, water runs down this gully into Market Street, and when the beck overflows onto the car park, some of the overflow also runs into the gully.

Every time the beck overflows, this is the first place in the town to flood, and Betterton Court is usually three bricks deep in water, as it eventually floods the car park along the whole length of the building and escapes under the archway, out into Chapmangate, making the building an island.

Approximately five years ago, during a flood, I removed some bricks from the low wall into the gully to allow the water, which was soaking our building and foundations, to drain much quicker. We were threatened with court action by our neighbours, so our management company took the easy way out and rebuilt the wall for £300 rather than spend several times that amount on solicitors’ fees.

Since the Environment Agency adopted the beck as “ main river” through most of the town in 2006, they have permissive powers over the riparian property owners and landowners to ensure that the beck runs freely. It has done lots of inspections in and around the culvert inlet at the Post Office and only recently decided that no worthwhile improvements can be made.

Ever since 1992 the first and most repeated question is “Why not build a wall?” – but the second question is “Where would the water go and what damage might it do to other properties?”

The reason the authorities decided not to build a wall is because it would immediately raise the water level by an unknown amount, which obviously varies according to the rainfall. It would push more water down the gully which, I repeat, was in the design plans.

Water would rise further up the Pet Shop Warehouse wall, which was built with the damp course two feet below the soil bank of the beck. Water would rise higher up and put more pressure on the Shoe Shop wall. Much more pressure would be forced onto the Post Office wall. This wall has looked very vulnerable for a long time and, if it collapsed, the whole town centre would be flooded within minutes, far worse than in 2007. The Post Office could flood, and the overflow could go down to the Telephone Exchange building, which could flood.

A collapsed wall could take many hours or even days to block the burst bank, whilst the town continued to flood.

If none of these possibilities happened and the inlet surcharged, the water would back-up towards London St bridge and could flood the Old Mill, from underneath, or flood over the bank to Turton House/Flats and into Union Street.

Compared to the estimated cost of £2m for the 2007 flood, who would volunteer to pay £10 m or more, in compensation claims?

Like it or not, that is why the answer is always “Better the devil you know”.

Betterton Court continues to suffer the most, by standing in water every time the beck overflows.

Following the well-attended public meeting on 6 January, thetTown council is holding a series of meetings, with the East Riding of Yorkshire Council and the Environment Agency, and has asked for a CCTV inspection through all the culverts to check their structural integrity and check for blockages.

Simon Berkeley, the Local Plan inspector, anticipates that he will report on the strategy document by mid -January and on the allocations document early this year, so we should soon know more about the proposed alleviation scheme, upstream of Mile End.

Les Waby

Betterton Court, Pocklington