SERVICE cuts are adding to the risk of flooding in Wrexham as the number of times roadside gullies are cleared has been reduced, it has been claimed.

Gullies are used to collect and remove surface water and Wrexham Council previously took the decision to decrease how often they are unblocked from twice a year to just once.

Council leader Mark Pritchard (Ind) was questioned about the issue during a meeting where a budget overspend of around £1.2m for the authority’s environment department was discussed.

He said the change was made prior to the current issues facing the department, which has now limited all non-essential works, but added it was necessary because of financial pressures.

Cllr Mike Morris (Cons) said he was aware of one area of the county where dozens of blocked gullies had been discovered.

Speaking at Wrexham’s Guildhall on Wednesday, the Holt representative said: “The £1.2 million overspend in this department has been static for over nine months, so there’s been no signs of an improvement there.

“In a sense, there’s other areas of that department having a hit for some which are failing.

“I went to community council last night and one of the members had been round the community and found 40 roadside gullies that are absolutely chock a block and haven’t been touched for probably two or three years.

“They’ve all been marked up and they’ve said ‘Unless they’re flooded we’re not going to touch them,’ causing a flooding issue to a property.

“Those are the things that are important to people along with highway repairs.”

Council officers said a large amount of the deficit facing the department was as a result of the use of agency workers.

However, managers have reduced their reliance on temporary staff to a point where there are now only six working on its behalf.

Cllr Pritchard also said a cut of almost half a million pounds by the Welsh Government to the authority’s waste grant had caused a significant impact.

He said: “With the waste grant, we’ve had a £477,000 reduction.

“That grant used to come from Welsh Government and we’d spend it on recycling, vehicles and collection, but we don’t have that so it’s an added pressure.

“I think we should never forget that and what will happen with the grant in the future I don’t know.

“With regards to the gullies, the gullies have to be emptied once a year so I don’t know who made the statement that they just leave them.

“They did used to be emptied twice a year, but we took the decision from a service point a view through the cuts just to empty them once a year.”