Flood-risk misery for Oban woman

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Torrents of muddy water escaping from a clogged-up stream is pouring misery down on a disabled Oban woman, leaving her at ‘breaking point’.

When it rains, a woodland stream at the back of Lorna McCullock’s home in Hazeldean Crescent bursts its banks and runs wild like a river through her back garden, up to her doorstep, floods her greenhouse, rushes across a concrete patch now abandoned as a garage site, through the front garden, out through the fence and into the road – cracking up the pavements and into other annoyed neighbours’ gardens.

‘It’s like living next to the Black Lynn,’ said Ms McCullock, who says her calls for help have been ignored by Scottish Water and Argyll and Bute Council.

‘They are quite literally washing their hands of it. No one wants to take responsibility for solving the problem. I just want to scream,’ she said.

The flooding risk is so severe that no insurance company will give her contents cover, she claims.

According to Ms McCullock, work was carried out some years ago by the council to redirect the stream underground after fears nearby houses were at risk of subsiding.

Until last year, partially-sighted Ms McCullock, who has an agonising inflammatory condition and lives in the house with her partner James Speirs and son Ross, cleaned the stream out to rid it of built-up silt and leaves but that stopped when the family were warned off.

‘Some trees came down in a big storm. We cut them up for firewood and it got reported to the police. The council came and said we were not allowed on to that land anymore – so we can’t touch the stream or we’ll be trespassing.

‘We have no idea who owns that bit of wood but apparently there’s a protection order on the trees. They are huge – no wonder so many leaves clog up the stream. We never get daylight in the house,’ said Ms McCullock.

Argyll Community Housing Association (ACHA) had also been contacted by Ms McCullock in a desperate plea for help but was told her plight would be added to a property inspection list.

‘I asked when an inspector would come out but they didn’t seem to know. You can see the watermark on the timber at the back of the house where it rises to – it goes right under it. My garden is a bog. Walk on it and you sink.

‘My greenhouse floods, there’s inches of mud left in it and I’m paying an extra £54 a year to the housing association for a bit of concrete where I was going to put a garage – but there’s no point, it would only flood. I’m so frustrated with no one taking responsibility, I’m at breaking point with it all.’

‘I’m not well and this trouble makes it worse. I can’t get insurance because of the flood risk and the height of the trees so close to the house. I’ve called 11 companies but no one will touch us.’

ACHA, Argyll and Bute Council and Scottish Water were contacted by The Oban Times for their response.

A spokesman for ACHA said: ‘Following your email, ACHA officers carried out an inspection of the issue. A pipe has been installed to take the water underground to the drainage system.

‘Our inspectors noted that a piece of mesh has been put over the mouth of the pipe to act as a filter for leaves and debris. The mesh had blocked which meant that the water could not go down the pipe and was flowing over the top and flooding the garden.

‘I am advised that it appears now that the pipe has been cleared and the water was flowing. The mouth of this pipe, where the blockage is located, is outwith our boundaries and not on association land. We are not aware of who owns the land but will investigate.’

Scottish Water said it was a council matter.

A spokesman for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘Although the stream is not on council land, we have arranged to visit the location with ACHA to see what can be done to help the resident.’

Oban North and Lorn councillor Kieron Green said he would also be visiting Hazeldean Crescent to talk to residents.