A COUPLE whose home was devastated by flooding have said they’re “fighting” to uncover liability after council and water services offered “no guidance” ahead of floods.

Jacqui and Paul Bates of Bushell Road in Poole were forced out of their home in July after its downstairs and garden was ruined by flooding caused by heavy rainfall.

The couple have since spent most of their time outside, with no heating or electrics being available inside.

They are now “seriously concerned” that they may have to foreclose their home due to a lack of accountability from either Wessex Water or BCP Council.

Mr Bates said: “We have seven years left on our mortgage but we will be unable to continue that unless we reinsure the house. The deadline to do this is in December and a huge concern is that the building insurance can only be granted if an organisation takes responsibility for the flooding.

“If we don’t get this, we could well foreclose.”

In the aftermath of the flooding, Wessex Water told the couple that unmaintained gullies were likely the biggest cause of flooding damage and that had a nearby underpass on Fleetsbridge roundabout not been there, the excess water that flooded the underpass would have gone straight into their home.

They added that BCP Council is responsible for highway gulley maintenance.

Jacqui said: “We’re managing but answers to the big questions is what we’re desperate for and nobody will answer.

“We could be chucked out into nowhere and we’ve done nothing wrong which is why we’re trying to get someone to be liable for the lack of flood preparation.

“The drainage is awful here and I find myself being absolutely terrified at the thought of heavy rain, I’m beside myself.”

Jacqui and Paul did however say that they were “very grateful” to Wessex Water, who repaired the couples’ garden free of charge. Paul said: “They made it look lovely and whether that was an admittance of responsibility I don’t know, but we really just need someone to tell us why our home flooded worse than ever before.”

Bournemouth Echo: Jacqui and Paul's garden before and after the repair works by Wessex WaterJacqui and Paul's garden before and after the repair works by Wessex Water

A Wessex Water spokesperson said: “The flooding was not caused by any failures on our sewerage network, but in this case is likely to have been due to highway gullies being overwhelmed with rainwater.

“Recognising the distress caused, our crews helped Mr and Mrs Bates with the clear-up at their property.

“We are working with the council and other organisations to fully understand the flooding issues caused by July’s unprecedented storm event, which caused disruption to a number of people in the area.

“As the highways authority, BCP Council is responsible for highway gulley maintenance.”

A BCP Council spokesperson said: “We are sympathetic to the unfortunate situation that the Bates are in, regarding the flood damage to their home, and we have provided the appropriate advice and support that we are able to give, when it comes to flooding across the BCP area.

“There is government and independent advice available when it comes to insuring and protecting your home, such as the government backed insurance scheme Floodre at www.Floodre.co.uk, which has been set up to make sure that insurance companies will continue to provide the appropriate support to properties at flood risk and includes cover for those that have flooded (through a levy charged on all insurance policies).

“It is recommended that the residents themselves ensure that their property is as flood resilient as possible. Blue Pages, www.bluepages.org.uk/ provides the contact details of independent companies that can provide a survey service to advise on suitable flood resilience and resistance measures, as well as installation of the measures themselves.

“We are happy to answer any concerns and queries that the family or anyone else affected may have at flooding@bcpcouncil.org.uk.”