‘I’m really frustrated’ – Mid Sussex residents speak out over flooding issues

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Mid Sussex residents have spoken out about flooding in the wake of Storm Dennis.

For the second weekend in a row the district was hit by strong winds and downpours, leaving many frustrated by flooding.

Areas affected included America Lane in Haywards Heath, which closed on Thursday (February 13), due to the area being completely waterlogged at its junction with Westlands Road. The road has since reopened.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jane Murray Way in Burgess Hill was under water on Monday, and drivers who were spotted using the road prompted a warning from West Sussex Highways that road users should ‘adhere to road closed warning signs and never risk driving through floodwater’.

Flooding on the B2110 north of BalcombeFlooding on the B2110 north of Balcombe
Flooding on the B2110 north of Balcombe | jpimedia

Balcombe resident Peter Field, 77, has lived on the B2110 for more than 30 years and said there were never any flooding problems until about two years ago.

He told the Middy that recently he has ‘dragged two people out of the floods’ who were in their cars, and he also had to help a woman restart her car after it became trapped in flood water. He said: “It’s very, very dangerous.”

Mr Field believes the loss of mature trees in the area has contributed to the problem.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“They used to soak up all the water, and now they don’t so that’s why we have flooding,” he said.

Flooding on the B2110 north of BalcombeFlooding on the B2110 north of Balcombe
Flooding on the B2110 north of Balcombe | jpimedia

“I made a formal complaint about this to West Sussex County Council two years ago. They told me that a drain has collapsed, and that’s why flooding has increased, but neither myself nor others can see this.”

Mr Field praised the council for their responses to him however, said they were ‘very helpful’ and called him back ‘within ten minutes’ on Monday morning.

He said on the edge of the B2110 there are concrete boulders to prevent flooding.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He described the road as ‘dangerous’, and said signage issues had caused accidents. He said: “It’s a nightmare down there, the road is shocking.

Peter FieldPeter Field
Peter Field | jpimedia

“There have been lots of accidents ever since signs saying S bend, deer, slow down and road narrows were taken down.

“They were replaced with just one saying road narrows.

“It’s one of the most dangerous roads, there have been 50 to 60 big accidents in the last 30 years and there are holes in the hedges from people crashing into them.”

Mr Field said he ‘just wants some action’, and suggested that trees and hedges are replanted, or a ‘proper land drain’ is put in.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Flooding at the junction of Westlands Road and America Lane in Haywards HeathFlooding at the junction of Westlands Road and America Lane in Haywards Heath
Flooding at the junction of Westlands Road and America Lane in Haywards Heath | jpimedia

He said: “The police have been down here before and told the council that the road isn’t dangerous, but it is. I’m just appalled.”

Another Balcombe resident who has expressed concerns over flooding is Andy Hawkes, 46, who has lived in Haywards Heath Road for 15 years.

He said: “The flooding outside of my property is getting worse due to West Sussex Highways not clearing the drains.

“I have been on and on at them for nearly a year and yesterday (Sunday) because of Storm Dennis, the flood was even worse than ever, all because the drains are not cleared.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“At one point I thought my property was about to be flooded.”

He said he was ‘fed up of getting fobbed off’, and frustrated that he has to wear Wellington boots to get from his property to his car.

Andy Hawkes took this picture of flooding on Haywards Heath RoadAndy Hawkes took this picture of flooding on Haywards Heath Road
Andy Hawkes took this picture of flooding on Haywards Heath Road | ugc

He said: “Drains aren’t being cleared properly. I’m really frustrated by this. The council have had people out to look at the drains, most recently two weeks ago, and whatever they’ve done hasn’t worked because it’s made no difference.”

He said he had contacted West Sussex County Council in the past, and most recently contacted them on Tuesday, February 18 to escalate his complaint, because he says that flooding around Haywards Heath Road is getting worse.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In a letter, he said to the council: “I’ve lived along this road for 15 years and have never seen the road so flooded as I have in the last year.”

He said he was ‘thoroughly fed up of being fobbed off with excuses’ and was left with a high clean-up bill through no fault of his own. And while he praised some council members who he said were ‘brilliant’, he criticised the authority for not taking action.

West Sussex Highways attended 119 emergencies caused by Storm Dennis at the weekend, and had extra teams on standby following the weather warnings as part of the council’s #WinterReady preparations.

In response to the issues raised in Balcombe, a spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “Balcombe drains are part of our gully cleansing programme, along with all other drainage assets in the county on our road network.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“If there are specific drains that are not working then these can be reported on the following link: www.westsussex.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/report-a-problem-with-a-road-or-pavement.”

The spokesman said all customer enquiries were given a unique number, which could be quoted to get updates on a specific issue.

“If any have not been responded to then we can look into why from that unique reference number, if it is supplied.”

He said a local traffic officer would investigate concerns over signage in the area. And he advised anyone who thought an offence had been committed by the removal of protected trees or hedgerows to report the matter through links on the website: www.gov.uk/guidance/countryside-hedgerows-regulation-and-management#apply-to-remove-a-countryside-hedgerow.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A Mid Sussex District Council spokesman said: "The District Council is powerless to prevent landowners from removing trees on their property unless they are subject to specific Tree Preservation Orders.

“Hedgerows are afforded greater protection but only if they are on agricultural land and, as this site is now used as a private wedding venue, the landowner had the right to remove them.”