A CRUCIAL report aimed at tackling York's flood management crisis is due to finally be published this month, a year after it was first due.
City leaders agreed in December 2012 to commission a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy, following a damning report that said generations of under-investment and neglect had left York's drains unable to cope with even minor floods.
The report, on surface water problems, said it would cost £5 million to bring the city's drains up to standard, but a separate strategy on flood management has now been postponed four times.
City of York Council says the draft is now complete, and officials plan to present it to cabinet on September 2. The report should be published in late August, but although the council says many of the decisions made in 2012 have been acted on, the formal partnership and community involvement promised then have not been established.
Opposition councillors say York's flooding problems have been exacerbated by cuts to gully-cleaning. In 2011/12, the council carried out 39,000 cleans, but this fell to 20,664 in 2012/13 and 2013/14.
Green councillor Andy D'Agorne said: "I am concerned that casual observation from my riding around York shows increasing numbers of drain-pots blocked, increasing the risk of surface water flooding events.
"As I understand it one of cuts has been to abandon the programme of 'regular' annual gully clearing with only 'reactive' clearing taking place in response to reports of blocked drains.
"That seems to be a very high risk approach given the increasing incidence of intense summer rainfall."
Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for environmental services, said: "Last autumn and winter particularly there were incidents of flooding on local roads as water was not draining away properly. Regular cleaning of the road gullies helps stop this by ensuring that they efficiently drain water off the road surface and minimise the pressure on the drains. This is not happening due to Labour’s cuts."
Drainage problems have led to disruption and large pools forming in recent years in much of York, including Fulford, Badger Hill and the Leeman Road area.
A Labour spokesperson said: "There’s been long running issues with the capacity of some drains, especially when we have large amounts of rainfall in a short space of time, just as we have had recently. "However nobody can deny large scale funding cuts to councils from the Conservative Liberal Democrat Government is having an impact on public services in York or across the country.
“It is important the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy is not rushed and helps address the issues the public and councillors are raising in an era of less Government funding.”
As part of its decision in 2012, the cabinet agreed a formal partnership would be formed to prepare the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy, including "appropriate community involvement", but this has yet to happen.
Steve Wragg, council flood risk manager, said the council was working with other organisations such as the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and internal drainage boards and said there would be consultation later this year, after September's meeting, to ensure the strategy reflected the public's "expectations and aspirations".
He said liaison between the highways and flood risk management teams meant problems could be identified early and said the flood risk team had received rolling funding since the 2012 cabinet meeting to fund proactive investigations to find problems.
The report to cabinet next month was first due between June and October last year, but was postponed until the November, then December, then January 2014.