Highway drainage

We maintain about 150,000 gullies on our highways and clean 500 gullies a day.

We visit and clean every gully on the A road network and in known flood risk areas at least once a year. Some streets are visited every 3 years due to low silt levels. We make a record of each visit to help plan for the future.

A highway grip is a shallow ditch connecting the road edge to the roadside ditch to drain rainwater from the highway. We maintain them so that they are clear and not overgrown.

Common issues

  • Parked cars: Advance notice signs in your street will tell you when we need cars moved to give us easy access for our operatives and equipment. In floor risk areas with high levels of parking also place tow away signs (2 days notice) and let you know by post that work will start soon. We will tow vehicles as a last resort if a lot of gullies are being blocked
  • Seized lids: We'll try to loosen a lid, but if it's stuck, sometimes we'll need to plan in maintenance to replace it at a later date
  • Ongoing works: If a company or developer is carrying out works in the street we will sometimes need to delay cleansing
  • Blocked gullies: We will use a jetting hose to clear blockages and if needed a specialist team will attend. If this doesn't work, we'll plan for a full repair at a later date or emergency works in high risk areas.


During heavy rain, it may take a while for the water to drain and you could see water at the edge of the carriageway due to the large volume of water. Please allow 2 hours after the rain stops before reporting standing water.

If a road is impassable and potentially hazardous it may need urgent attention by phoning us on 0300 126 3000 between 8am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. Outside these hours, our emergency line is 01604 651074.


Ditches drain water from low-lying areas alongside roadways or fields. It is the adjacent landowner's responsibility to make sure that the ditch is not blocked. Issues with these should be report to the landowner.

National Highways

National Highways maintains certain trunk roads in the area and issues should be reported directly to them. The roads are highlighted in green on our mapping:

  • M1
  • M45
  • A5
  • A14
  • A43 between the M40 Junction 10 and M1 Junction 15a (from Northampton to the county boundary near Stamford is the Council)
  • A45 between Thrapston and the M1 Junction 15 (from Junction 16 to the county boundary towards Dunchurch is the Council)

Last updated 27 February 2023