SOME residents are set to return to their homes in a flood-hit area of Basingstoke this weekend.

Sovereign Housing Association has announced that all of their residents who were evacuated from homes that were not flooded will hopefully be able to go back to Exmoor Close.

The five families have spent weeks in hotels due to the groundwater flooding in Buckskin, which started on February 8.

Roy Probert, public relations manager at Sovereign, said: “We anticipate that all of our Buckskin residents who were evacuated, but not actually flooded out, will be back in their homes by the weekend.

“We are in the process of conducting gas and electricity checks at these properties and have made it clear, for safety reasons, that residents should not move back without our knowledge.”

He added: “With regard to the 40 households whose properties were flooded, it will be some time before they will be able to return.

“Their homes will have to dry out thoroughly, be decontaminated and then, once we have assessed the extent of the damage, repaired. We are in the process of moving all of these residents into longer-term temporary accommodation.”

Tankering in the flood-hit area stopped on Tuesday after groundwater levels significantly reduced.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council made the decision, stating there is “no longer a need to keep tankers pumping out and removing the water to protect properties”.

Attention has now turned to the massive clean-up operation of the area, and a team from Thames Water has been on site for two weeks, jetwashing footpaths and roads with disinfectant.

The borough council has also provided skips in Antrim Close and Grampian Way for residents whose homes have been flooded to dispose of carpets, furniture and other items that have been contaminated by floodwater. Teams will also start to remove sandbags later this week to help with the effective clean-up of the area.

Basingstoke MP Maria Miller met with representatives from Thames Water last Friday, along with Buckskin councillor Robert Taylor and Hampshire County Councillor for Basing-stoke North West, Stephen Reid, to discuss the organisation’s involvement in the crisis.

Thames Water has come under fire for not doing enough to tackle the flooding crisis, but John Sparks, senior manager at Thames Water, told The Gazette: “I am very proud of what we have done in cleaning up the area.

“There’s still more to do and we’ll continue to work closely with the council.

“The record rainfall this year led to this severe groundwater problem, and unfortunately there was little we could do until the water levels started to drop.”

He added: “Now water levels have receded, we’ve stepped up our involvement in the area, and are doing our best to help.”

But Cllr Paul Harvey, the borough’s Labour group deputy leader and prospective Labour candidate for Basingstoke, who was involved in helping the flood-hit residents when the crisis started, still believes Thames Water didn’t act fast enough.

He told The Gazette: “What they have done in the last couple of weeks is welcome and has helped, but it took them far too long to respond. It was all a bit late in the day.

“They acknowledged there was sewage water flowing down the street and surface water and there were issues for the sewage system, but because it was groundwater, they didn’t want anything to do with it.”