“Utter devastation” was the area’s MP’s initial reaction when he saw the impact of the flash flooding in Ross-on-Wye last week.

Jesse Norman, MP for South Herefordshire, spent time with many of the town’s traders last week on a fact-finding mission in Broad Street and Brookend Street to establish what had occurred and the problems that the shop-keepers are still having to come to terms with. Mr Norman said: “It was not just that there was such extensive damage, made worse by the combination of drain and foul water. Or that homes and premises along Broad Street had been flooded, which had never experienced it before. “It was also that the road surface was so bad - before the flooding even occurred.”

During his tour of the town that had been affected by the flooding on Sunday, May 12, Mr Norman was accompanied by the mayor, Cllr Bev Pope and other members of the town council along with representatives from Welsh Water, Balfour Beatty and Herefordshire Council. Mr Norman added: “At my urging, Welsh Water have made clear they will offer a generous and inclusive compensation package. Their chief executive Peter Perry told me: ‘We are very sorry for the impact and distress caused. We will do all we can to support all those affected and do right by them.’ I and my team will continue to work with anyone locally who needs our help to make this happen.”

Mr Norman said that Ross Town councillors were rightly indignant about what had happened, and he was impressed by the way  Welsh Water, Balfour Beatty and Herefordshire Council had put together an emergency response to the developing disaster. Cllr Barry Durkin, Herefordshire Council’s cabinet member for roads and regulatory services, also visited the town during the aftermath of the flooding and said: “It was heart rending to see the damage caused and the effect of the disruption to shop owners and their premises, by the events of the storm and sewer collapse, but importantly, Ross remains open for business.

Mp on his rounds in Ross
CONCERNS: Traders raise flooding issues with MP Jesse Norman and Ross town mayor Cllr Bev Pope. (Tindle)

“When appropriate, permanent works will need to be undertaken to the highway along Broad Street and the walkways to be made safe.

“However, we are constrained from the issuing of permanent works until Welsh Water are able to confirm that they have reviewed and dealt with their sewer issues.”

Mr Norman went on to suggest that this problem was now an opportunity not just to fix the flood damage, but to give Ross a real sense of change and renewal. How could this be done? Mr Norman suggested that this could be done by waiving charges at council-owned car parks to give local businesses a boost. And with Welsh Water are looking to reinstate the pavements as they were, Mr Norman suggests: “Why not have Herefordshire Council put in paving stones rather than replace the brick treatment on Broad Street?

“Additionally, instead of just checking for sub-surface damage, why not replace the whole road surface from top to bottom, making sure the drains on both sides are good for another generation or more?”