Flooding in Bedford causes venues to close - while angry residents blame blocked drains

Unfortunately, such incidents cannot be entirely prevented, says council
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Heavy rain caused chaos in Bedford with venues and roads forced to close.

Gaming cafe and shop Geek Retreat in Bedford's Harpur Centre has been forced to shut as drains overflowed into the shop during the downpour last night (June 22).

Shop owner Sharon Lockhart said while the Harpur Centre removed the flood water, its flooring and some stock are ruined.

Heavy rain caused chaos in BedfordHeavy rain caused chaos in Bedford
Heavy rain caused chaos in Bedford

Geek Retreat Stevenage has offered to host its Pokemon event, if the Bedford site cannot reopen this weekend.

Samantha Laycock, Harpur Centre manager, said: "Due to yesterday’s unprecedented rainwater affecting the town centre’s drainage systems which all parts of the centre connect into, the Harpur Centre teams worked tirelessly to support Geek Retreat who were unfortunately majorly affected as were many of our neighbouring businesses across Bedford.”

Samantha said that the shopping centre’s internal systems were 'not at fault in any way’.

She added: “We can confirm that the Harpur Centre itself and all its other businesses are still continuing to trade.

"We used our specialist equipment to assist our family-run gaming café long into the night and we will continue to advise and support them during their recovery to ‘gaming as usual’.”

She thanked the Harpur Centre personnel for going above and beyond.

Flooding also forced The Higgins Bedford to close its doors “until further notice”, while last night’s Dara O Briain show at the Bedford Corn Exchange was cancelled at short notice after part of the auditorium flooded, causing safety fears.

Roff Avenue was closed due to an overturned vehicle, while Mallard Hill was flooded. Meanwhile, police were called to the junction between Brickhill Drive and Mallard Hill where a large void appeared around a drain cover.

In Larkway, cars causing waves as they drove through flood water were causing problems, and drain covers and manholes were blown in Cemetery Road in Kempston, Newnham Street in Bedford, and Springfield Drive at the junction wigh Grange Lane in Bromham.

Resourceful residents in Queen’s Park placed wooden pallets to create makeshift walkways over flood waters.

Angry residents commenting on the council’s Facebook page blamed blocked drains for the problems, with one writing: “If you had cleaned the drains like we pay you to, there would be less of a problem.”

A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson said: “Routes are now reopen after last night’s flooding. The Higgins remains closed today and we expect the Corn Exchange to open soon.

“While we make every effort to keep gullies clear, it's important to note that heavy rain and flash flooding can still overwhelm the highway, even with cleared gullies. Unfortunately, such incidents cannot be entirely prevented.”

It also confirmed that this weekend’s Kite and Motoring Festival and Bedford Park Concerts were due to go ahead as scheduled.

> Have you been affected by the downpour? Get in touch at [email protected]

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