Repeated ‘catastrophic’ flooding – and a cardboard box factory on the edge of disaster

Business owners in a Stockport mill are pleading with authorities to step up their flood maintenance — in order to prevent ‘catastrophic’ flooding again.

The Welkin Mill, on Welkin Road, Bredbury, most recently flooded in January 2021, causing thousands in damage to a cardboard box company on the ground floor.

“We had lots of damage,” Ankit Patel, owner of Boxomatic, said. “Once the [boxes] get wet we cannot use them. The machine had to be cleaned, too.

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“It had a catastrophic effect, causing about £7,000-or-£8,000 of damage.

“When the flood came, the business… was just two months old then. There was a big effect on all the businesses.”

Now, after a dispute with Stockport Council, and National Highways, another firm is calling on the agencies to put a ‘long term maintenance plan’ in place to manage the risk of flood water coming into the mill.

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Central to the dispute is a clogged-up-culvert which runs underneath Welkin Road, that connects a stream on nearby woodland to the River Goyt.

Matt Butler, operations director at MoviEscape, says no public body he has spoken to will accept responsibility for the culvert, which is a tunnel that passes water underground.

However, the council has told the Manchester Evening News that it is attempting to ‘establish responsibility within the next few months’ and it cleaned it recently as an ‘emergency measure’.

“There was flooding in January 2021 — prior to that Welkin Road has flooded going back years,” Matt said. “The council says National Highways [is responsible for it] but it is on their land. National Highways say they have no record of it.

“We are stuck in the middle.

“The council organised emergency contractors to come out, last week, while claiming it is not their land. They say it [was] a gesture of goodwill.”

While Matt welcomes the council’s move to clean the drain, he insists that it is still a ticking time-bomb without a more long-term vision.

He added: “They did clear it out but they are still not accepting responsibility.

“This has a massive impact on so many businesses who get flood damage yearly.

“We have businesses to run. We cannot sort out arguments between two public sector bodies.

“The council is supposed to serve the people. We should not be fighting.”

Bosses at the council says the culvert is not its responsibility — but is attempting to sort out who should look after it.

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“The culvert runs through land owned by the council and under the unadopted Welkin Road,” a spokesperson said.

“We have cleaned the culvert out as an emergency measure even though we do not consider the council is responsible for the culvert.

“We hope to definitively establish responsibility for the culvert within the next few months.”

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