A BUSINESSMAN has claimed motorists were left to waste their time in queues and diversions because the A19 flooded because of a rubbish bin.
The road was closed twice last month after torrential rain led to a deluge of water covering the carriageway at Seaham.
While traffic chiefs say it was down to the amount of which fell, Simon Weightman, who owns land bordering the road, believes the container caused water to back up when it got stuck in a pipe.
He went to look what was causing the blockage after the closures and decided to remove the bin and clear out the muck himself with the help of employees.
However, the Highways Agency says that while it is investigating what happened to the pipe in the lead-up to the floods, the bin was not to blame.
Mr Weightman, 65, said: “My staff and I immediately pulled out a dustbin blocking the pipe before more rain could create a large lake over the A19 again.
“It is gross neglect to allow this to happen. The bin must have been there for over 12 months, allowing silt to build and make matters more worse.
“The Highways Agency should spend more time away from the office and be more vigilant. Excessive surface water causes accidents and claims many lives each year.
“In this case the problem is logic, common sense and management.”
Mr Weightman, who lives next to the road, added that the closure of the A19 has an impact on the region’s transport network and the businesses which rely on the route.
The Highways Agency was called out on November 26 and December 20 to pump away water from the road.
A spokesman said: “Although we understand the frustration felt by residents that the A19 near Seaham was closed, it was necessary because of the huge volumes of water running off saturated fields and roads adjacent to it.
“Flood waters have only recently receded sufficiently for us to investigate the specific causes.
“We believe the bin in question is likely to have been debris that fell off a passing vehicle. “A concrete drain cover at the bottom of the embankment appears to have been removed by non-highways staff, resulting in the bin getting sucked into the chamber when water levels receded.
“We are investigating the incident. However, we don’t believe the bin contributed to the level of flooding.
“We expect to be able to fit a temporary cover this week while we arrange for a replacement permanent cover to be manufactured.”