Questions asked as Derby City Council has just one lorry to clean more than 40,000 drains

Derby City Council says it is responsible for managing more than 43,000 drains city wide – but only has one maintenance vehicle to clean them, new information has emerged. News of the council having just one drainage cleansing lorry[1] on its books has led to leading councillors of the Labour-led authority being challenged on whether the city can cope with adverse weather.

The city council says its “challenging financial position”[2] is the reason why it cannot purchase more cleaning vehicles. A spokesperson for the authority said purchasing just one more drain cleansing lorry would cost around £180,000.

The council’s cabinet released the information after it was asked a question by Derby resident Simon Bacon about drains maintenance ahead of a recent full council meeting. Mr Bacon told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS)[3] he quizzed the council after being fed up with drains being blocked in Normanton[4] where he lives.

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He said: “The drainage network will slowly silt up the way things are going. It’s unrealistic to expect one lorry and crew to do so much work. As they silt up more each drain will take longer.”

The Normanton resident challenged leading councillors on the issue during a full council meeting held last month. He asked if the council was confident that one drain cleansing lorry was enough to protect the city’s highway network.

Councillor Carmel Swan, cabinet member for environment, replied with “probably not”. She added: “Due to budget cuts we cannot invest in such infrastructure such as a new gully truck. It is something we would definitely consider in future budgets.”

The council says drain cleansing frequencies are either every 12, 24, 26 or 48 months. All gullies are risk assessed which gives the authority a recommended frequency.

A spokesperson for Derby City Council said: “The gully cleansing service was reviewed in 2020, with all gullies surveyed and risk assessed. A revised cleansing schedule was implemented, which prioritised hotspot locations for more regular cleaning.

“In addition to the schedule, gullies are cleaned in response to reports, localised flooding and deep clean efforts in communities. The winter season has always been an exceptionally busy time for the gully wagon, and the extreme weather and excessive rainfall we have experienced has put additional pressure on cleaning. Our teams are working hard to keep the city’s gullies clear.

“The council’s current challenging financial position means we must carefully consider any expenditure and there are currently no plans to purchase another wagon.”


  1. ^ the council having just one drainage cleansing lorry (
  2. ^ “challenging financial position” (
  3. ^ Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) (
  4. ^ in Normanton (
  5. ^ Join us on WhatsApp to get the latest news straight to your phone (