WINCHESTER should prepare for more severe flooding as climate change worsens, says a civic chief.

Cllr Rob Humby said there will be repeats of the flooding that affected more than 70 properties in August last year.

But improvements to the drainage system recommended in a report are impractical, says Conservative Cllr Humby, deputy leader of Hampshire County Council.

Lib Dem city and county councillor Martin Tod Hampshire disagrees, saying "Hampshire needs to take its head out of the sand and get ahead of this".

An investigation found that, although the city's drains were in the main functioning properly, they could not cope with the heavy rainfall. Some drains were blocked.

One of the recommendations in the report was to extend High Street drainage improvement works to the Broadway, but Cllr Humby said this may not be "practical either from a feasibility or cost perspective".

He added: “After last summer’s flooding event in Winchester, as promised, we have undertaken a full investigation. The report that has now been published sets out the causes of the event and identifies a range of measures which may help in reducing the impact of the flooding in future.

"The report confirms that the highways drainage systems in Winchester were functioning properly but were overloaded due to the sheer volume of rainfall in a very short space of time.

“We will continue to do all that we can to ensure existing drainage systems remain as effective as possible, however, there may be further occasions where these will not be able to cope with severe rainfall intensities on this scale.

"Sadly, we are likely to see more of this with the impacts of climate change and, while we will bring forward improvements where we can, providing further drainage capacity across all of our drainage assets in all of our urban areas is not practical either from a feasibility or cost perspective."

In response to Cllr Humby's claims, Cllr Tod said the county council has "missed the point" of the reporter.

"No-one is asking that every drain is upgraded," he said.

"The report doesn’t ask for that. And residents and businesses aren’t asking for that. The consultants’ modelling shows there are particular areas and particular streets where particular action is needed.

"More regular drain clearance and, in some cases, better drainage – whether that means expanding what we have – or adding new measures. In the short-term, houses and businesses may have to do more to protect themselves, but the county can’t leave it at that.

"The important thing is to give this urgency and priority."

He added that although the report referred to the August 2020 storm as a one in 29 year or 1 in 42 year event, the city flooded again in July 2021.

Shops in The Broadway are usually the first to flood and in August last year Fone World, Choccoco and Char Tea were impacted.

David Hazeldean, manager of Char Tea, said: "The council needs to fix the drain, but what they have done is spent a lot of money on a report and probably do nothing. What they should have done is spent the money sorting it out, we would have been far better.

"They keep wanting to safeguard their backside by doing reports all the time. The people of the council are not the most dynamic people of Winchester. The results of this is that businesses like this won’t stay here. I’ve been flooded twice now and I shouldn’t have been flooded at all.

"The drains by the post office on the High Street are completely blocked because they aren’t maintained and they aren’t checked at all."

Sheharyar Maqsood, of Fone World, added: "A lot of our stock in the stock room is damaged as well as the stock we have hanging close to the floor in the shop. We had to throw away stock that had been water damaged.

"The council have to do more to improve the water sewage system. We have lost around £4,000-£5,000 in water damaged stocks. The sand bags given by the council did nothing."

Amelia Tarrent of Chococo said her business had to pay for flood defences itself. Following the floods last August, the flooring had to be replaced and it was "very expensive".

  • Additional reporting by Toby Oliver