PUBLISHED: 14:36 13 January 2006 | UPDATED: 21:37 28 May 2010
THE couple at the centre of the waterlog gate" scandal this week toasted the Cambs Times for our campaign to restore their flooded back garden. Without your paper's commitment we would never have got anywhere near resolving this mess," said Pam Tootal.
THE couple at the centre of the "waterlog gate" scandal this week toasted the Cambs Times for our campaign to restore their flooded back garden."Without your paper's commitment we would never have got anywhere near resolving this mess," said Pam Tootal.As she and her husband looked out on their Chatteris garden, she said: "It's been the worst experience of my life - and the six weeks contractors took to complete the work was almost unbearable."Fenland District Council footed the £22,000 repair bill without admitting liability for the catalogue of errors that saw the Tootals' garden flood after the completion of a nearby housing estate.But it took an 18-month campaign by the Cambs Times, intervention of the Local Government Ombudsman, talks with North-East Cambridgeshire MP Malcolm Moss, and pressure from local town and district councillors for the work to be approved.And it almost nearly was not approved, when Fenland council's cabinet blocked paying for the works in November - only to swiftly change its mind five days later when an emergency second meeting agreed for the remedial work to go ahead.But Mrs Tootal is far from happy at the toll the campaign has taken on her health and believes the "final insult" came with a bill for £350 she received from the contractors."I had no choice but to have some edging stones put in, but the contractors said they were not included in the quote," she said."They told me it would cost £118, and we agreed to pay for it but when the bill came it was for over £350 since they added labour charges. I've paid the bill but I'm not happy."Confidential cabinet papers obtained by the Cambs Times show councillors were told that unless Fenland agreed for the works they could face "increased press profile of situation".Although the council has always denied liability for the flooding, Fenland has admitted some of its planning procedures at the time when Persimmon Homes was allowed to build the homes may have been less than adequate."It is known that a drainage system was installed but there is no evidence of the actual constructed details and consequently the effectiveness of the system," Gary Garford, director business and infrastructure, told the cabinet in a report."This system has been inspected by the developers but FDC officers were denied access to this inspection process. "To date, no liability on the developers' part has been admitted. Likewise, no solution has been proposed."Mr Garford said Fenland had "no legal responsibility" from a land drainage perspective to resolve the matter but decided to act following media pressure and an investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman. Meanwhile, the Ombudsman has asked Fenland council for a "definitive statement" on whether it intends to pursue enforcement action against Persimmon, even though the company continues to deny liability.Mrs Tootal said: "I have lost a stone in weight because of this. I have been to hospital and have a suspected ulcer, and my husband's health continues to deteriorate."Yes, I am glad the work is complete but I am angry it took so much time and so much effort to get it put right."A Fenland council spokesman said: "We are still investigating the responsibility for putting this right." No one at Persimmon Homes was available for comment.