Overflowing drains and sewers in Barnet pose a "serious health and safety issue" and need to be tackled urgently, opposition councillors have warned.

The Labour group has urged Barnet Council to work with water companies and other organisations to deal more quickly with problem sites where raw sewage and water are overflowing on to pavements and parkland.

Council officers have agreed to provide an update of action being taken at several sites after the opposition group raised the issue during a meeting of the environment committee on January 13.

Barnet Council says it is "working very closely with Thames Water" to deal with foul water overflows.

One of the problem sites flagged up by councillors is Beaconsfield Road in Friern Barnet, where residents in housing block Chaville Court have experienced flooding since at least 2007, according to David Thompson, chairman of Friern Barnet and Whetstone Residents’ Association.

Mr Thompson said the sole pedestrian access path to some of the flats becomes submerged under water during flooding. "It is not just water – it’s sewage as well. It is not very pleasant." he added.

Other sites identified as needing urgent attention include Cricklewood Station, Stoneyfields Park in Edgware, Watling Park in Burnt Oak, and Barnet Lane in Totteridge.

Alan Schneiderman, the Labour group’s environment spokesperson, said: "Sewage and water overflowing on to our pavements and parks is a serious health and safety issue. Action to tackle these problems is taking far too long and, in some cases, years. I hope that raising this now will lead to a renewed focus on finding solutions as quickly as possible."

A spokesperson for Thames Water said the company was working hard to protect customers and reduce the risk of flooding by carrying out CCTV surveys and cleaning pipes, in addition to clearing other blockages such as tree roots.

They added: "In Chaville Court, we’ve been working to remove roots and reline the sewer, as well as investigating any other possible issues elsewhere on the network. We’ll also be meeting with the council and local MP at the end of this month."

A council spokesperson said the authority holds regular meetings with Thames Water where issues such as overflowing drains are discussed and followed up, "including what actions are being undertaken by the water companies to resolve them".

The spokesperson added: "The council is working actively to progress improvements to the drainage infrastructure in the borough, which includes successfully securing £6 million of funding from the Environment Agency for the Silk Stream Flood Resilience Innovation project. Working with Thames Water, they will be installing thermosensors in their network to identify the ingress of foul water in the surface water network.

"The council also secured an £18,000 grant to launch the ‘Unblocking Burnt Oak Brook’ project in April 2021. This project is ongoing, and we are engaging with communities and promoting Thames Water’s ‘bin it, don’t block it’ campaign to educate local communities about not flushing sewer-blocking items into the system, which is a key issue identified as causing overflows in the borough.

"As a contributory factor, Thames Water has identified under-reporting of sewage flooding as a key issue. To help address this, the Barnet webpage was updated to include important phone numbers and various reporting tools, and we continue to encourage residents to report incidents of sewage flooding through these contact points."