WORKING groups of residents will be walking back to the past to help solve flooding in Bersted.
The small parties of volunteers will use ancient maps to find out where ditches and drains used to be.
They will walk the parish to compare the historic information with the current situation.
These facts will be used to pressure bodies like Southern Water and West Sussex County Council to take action.
Parish councillors agreed to co-ordinate the groups to cover areas such as Stroud Green, Fairlands and Newbarn Lane.
Patrick Hastings, Bersted Parish Council’s chairman, told a public meeting on Tuesday about ditches and drains: “We need to be seen to be doing something as a community about this situation and that we mean business.
“We need people prepared to go out and build up knowledge. We need to know where all the drains go to. Somewhere, the flow of water is being blocked.”
This was partly caused by an absence of up-to-date knowledge from those responsible for tackling drainage. Anyone willing to help should email firstname.lastname@example.org
Some 60 residents attended the meeting at the Jubilee Hall. It was called because of the increasing flooding which Bersted has suffered from in the past two years.
Parish councillor Gill Yeates, who is involved with the Shripney Flood Action Group, said solving flooding was more than just clearing ditches and drains blocked by building or lack of maintenance.
“We are looking at unblocking drains but it is then a case of finding out where the water goes to,” she said. “We don’t want to solve one problem just to cause another.” But she said the situation was confused by the mass of information which showed various parts of the drainage system at different times.
Chichester Road resident Iain Pelot said Ordnance Survey maps from the 1870s could hold the key to finding out about the drainage.
“These maps went into immense detail. To cover the whole parish would take 20-30 sheets. We need these large-scale maps to pick out our ditches,” he said.
Cllr Gez Watson said the Trees Estate was typical of past development. She said: “One of the roads follows a stream. Its houses follow the line of the stream.
“Another of our roads was built where there was a pond. The children can’t use the play area there because it floods.”
Simon McDougall, the parish council’s vice-chairman, said: “If ever there was the time to pull together as a community, it is now. We are faced with this situation day in and day out.”
n See pages 6 & 7