CONCERNED residents in a flood-hit Basingstoke neighbourhood have urged Hampshire County Council to collect sandbags that have been contaminated with sewage water.

A total of 87 Buckskin homes were evacuated in Grampian Way, Exmoor Close, Bodmin Close, Antrim Close, Prescelley Close, Quantock Close, Sperrin Close and Holyrood Court after February 8, when properties were hit by groundwater flooding.

Forty residents of Sovereign Housing Association-owned homes remain away from their properties and the housing association is in the process of re-homing families.

So far, 24 families have been re-housed on a temporary or permanent basis, four families are waiting to move into properties, and Sovereign Housing Association is currently sourcing homes for an additional 12 families.

Roy Probert, public relations manager at Sovereign Housing Association, told The Gazette: “The homes that were affected had a large amount of water in them for a prolonged period.

“This could take months to dry out, after which we will be able to assess the extent of the damage and carry out repairs.”

He added: “We are talking to our residents regularly and as soon as each home is brought back up to a good standard, we will get them home. Realistically, however, it could be up to a year before the last resident is able to move back.”

It is not known how many homeowners are still unable to live in their property.

But now anger is growing among residents who feel that it has taken too long to collect contaminated sandbags that were used to protect homes from sewage water.

Teams from Hampshire County Council were due to start removing sandbags in late March to help with the effective clean-up of the area. However, nearly four weeks later, contaminated sandbags were still on an area of grass along Grampian Way as children were out of school for the Easter break.

Father-of-one Paul Bensilum lives with his wife Nicola and six-year-old son Peter, in Exmoor Close. The 42-year-old told The Gazette: “We have told our son about the risk (of the contaminated sandbags).

“They should have been taken away before the holiday with children around. They have had enough time to remove them.”

Mother-of-two Elizabeth Lawrence, 63, whose property in Wrekin Close overlooks the site of the contaminated sandbags, added: “If I had young children, I would be watchful.

“There were some teenagers sitting on contaminated breeze blocks the other day, and they didn’t realise they were contaminated.”

The Gazette asked Hampshire County Council for a comment on Tuesday morning, but they had failed to respond by yesterday lunchtime.