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Couple threaten legal action over 'river' running through Fenland home



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A Fenland couple are threatening legal action over what they claim is a 'river' running through their dining room thanks to work carried out by Cambridgeshire County Council.

Dr Claire Slade and her husband Jim have been locked in a battle with Cambridgeshire Highways for over three years because of water leaking from the pavement, which abuts their Benwick High Street home, into the 150 year-old property.

The couple bought the detached house in late 2017 and by early 2018 water had started to seep through into the dining room from the pavement. The house used to be a shop and so the property's frontage is directly on the pavement.

The property in Benwick High Street used to be a shop and so its frontage is directly on the pavement. (49838875)
The property in Benwick High Street used to be a shop and so its frontage is directly on the pavement. (49838875)

Claire said: "The water coming in is like a river running through our property. We are unable to use our dining room because we can't lay carpet or put soft furnishings in there because they will just get ruined. We can't even decorate the walls because of the damp.

"Over the last three years we have had our insurance company come out and tell us it is definitely down to the fact the pavement is higher than our damp course and there's nothing they can do.

"Cambridgeshire Highways have sent out a loss adjuster who determined the pavement was sloping towards the road and therefore it is not to blame. But you only have to put a spirit level on it to see that is not true and it is sloping towards our house.

Water runs into the property 'like a river' claims Claire and Jim Slade. (49838872)
Water runs into the property 'like a river' claims Claire and Jim Slade. (49838872)

"As a result we hit stalemate until MP Steve Barclay became involved and suggested we get an independent expert in, which the council agreed to. The expert took one look and said it was the pavement causing the problem as it was sloping towards our property and is higher than our damp course and suggested what needed to be done.

"The council did actually do the pavement, they came out and re-Tarmacked it. But unfortunately the work got signed off before it was properly finished and there is now a gap between our property and the pavement where the water can still seep through. It needs to be properly sealed off.

"The repair work to our property will cost around £3,500 but the council are refusing to pay for it and have offered us a fraction of that claiming any more would be making improvements to our house.

The spirit level clearly shows the pavement slopes towards the property in Benwick High Street, (49838851)
The spirit level clearly shows the pavement slopes towards the property in Benwick High Street, (49838851)

"It has been so frustrating, the ombudsman can't intervene because it is not in his remit, so the only course of action we have is to take the council to court - we are at a loss as to what else we can do when the council are refusing to pay up, or to come and seal the pavement where it joins our house.

"We are not asking for huge sums of money, we just want to be able to use our dining room - something we have been unable to do for over three years."

Water runs into the property 'like a river' claims Claire and Jim Slade. (49838869)
Water runs into the property 'like a river' claims Claire and Jim Slade. (49838869)

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “We’re aware of the water at this property and have carried out remedial work. Our claims team are working with the owners, but as this matter is subject to a claim against the council, it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment further.”



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