Branscombe pub owners’ plea for help from highways

Fountain Head business partners Jon Woodley and Teresa Hoare

Fountain Head business partners Jon Woodley and Teresa Hoare - Credit: Archant

The owners of a Branscombe pub fear a flash flood heralds the start of another wet winter but say they have had no help from highways bosses.

Business partners Teresa Hoare and Jon Woodley battled torrents last week to defend the Fountain Head, which was beleaguered in last year’s downpours.

They have arranged a meeting for residents with the Environment Agency, but say Devon County Council (DCC) has refused to accept responsibility for the road.

“It was coming down in torrents on Wednesday evening – the chef noticed the stream was starting to over flow, then it was all hands on deck,” said Teresa.

She said the staff were there late into the night trying to mitigate the problems, and returned early on Thursday morning – and had just finished cleaning up when another flood hit.

“It’s fortunate we were here when it happened, but how much more are we going to have?” asked Teresa.

Jon said that DCC is happy to accept payment to close the road for the Fountain Head’s annual beer festival, but when the road is contributing to the floods, the authority will not take responsibility.

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The pub lost a week of business when it was forced to close last year, and the pair are keen to prevent that happening again.

But they said the problem was not just theirs, and nearby residents have also suffered the effects of flooding in recent years.

Parish councillor Mark White met with a DCC surveyor on Wednesday, but said if he had come the following day he could have seen the extent of the problem.

“They have been quite good in the past at installing drains – it would be useful if they could extend them,” he said.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, DCC’s cabinet member for highway maintenance and flood prevention, said: “The drainage in the area has been inspected but no collapsed pipes or culverts were found.

“Unfortunately there appears to be no easy solution to the flooding problems as the area is in a valley with many water courses leading to it, making the area prone to flooding.

“In light of recent events we will continue to pursue funding opportunities and consider the options available for reducing the risk of further flooding.”

Teresa has arranged a meeting with the Environment Agency so nearby residents can find out more and pose questions. For information, contact the pub on 01297 680359.

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