Wiltshire

Malmesbury man's 'not-on-my-land' flooding concern

Geoff Ketcher
Image caption Geoff Ketcher has been forced to dig trenches outside his house, some as deep as 3.5ft (1m)

A man has been forced to clear roadside drainage ditches outside his property to prevent flooding, despite them not being on his land.

Geoff Ketcher from Lea, Wiltshire was "stunned" the council told him it was his responsibility.

He has already installed a pump and dug trenches in his garden, in a bid to stop flood water reaching his house.

Wiltshire Council told the BBC all home and landowners are responsible for maintaining such drainage ditches.

Mr Ketcher, who has lived in his house for eight years, and been hit by bad flooding over the last four winters, said pumping water out of his garden had become a "daily chore".

"[The council] came round and basically the advice is, I have to do it myself," he explained.

"I was absolutely gobsmacked when I first heard that. I just couldn't believe it.

"That is the line that they're taking at the moment - all of us have to get out there with our shovels and dig the sides of the highway."

Image caption Mr Ketcher said the ditch, located by the main road, can fill up in as little as half-an-hour

The council said if a homeowner's land boundary is next to a watercourse, it is assumed the homeowner owns the land up to the centre of the watercourse, unless it is owned by someone else.

In a statement, the authority said: "Under the 1991 Land Drainage Act, ditch maintenance is the responsibility of all homeowners or landowners."

But Mr Ketcher said the situation was affecting the price of his house, as well as his family's health.

"You can clear this straight away but you'll go inside, have a coffee and come out, and five minutes later, it will literally be as high as it was. It takes half-an-hour to refill," he added.

"Every time it rains, it's all hands to the pump. Literally.

"We've already had the lounge completely redecorated. We don't want to go through that aggravation again.

"My wife said she always wanted to live in a house with a moat, so we've got one for her."

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