A TEAM of experts are being drafted in to take emergency action against flooding in Ringwood, described as the worst in living memory.

Surveyors, flood wardens, council members and residents are building an action plan to dredge ditches and drains to put an end to high water levels, which have left Crow, Hightown Road and Eastfield Lane submerged.

Propertiues have been damaged, vehicles have been written off and Hightown Road and Eastfield Lane have become impassable due to high levels of surface water.

Martin Stewart was one of 10 residents who attended Ringwood's recreation, leisure and open spaces committee, urging members to take urgent action.

He said: "The flood water has been so deep that the roads are often impassable, and some properties have been flooded, including the Elm Tree pub. Vehicles have been damaged as a result of drivers finding it difficult to judge how deep the water on the roads had become.

"The costs to people must be in the thousands and the impact on the victims must be terrible. I believe the ditches have not been cleared regularly, and have silted up."

Georgina Long of Hightown Gardens said: "The water has been higher than I have ever seen and while I understand that the rainfall has been unprecedented this year, I am sure there are ways it could be handled."

Hampshire County Council's highway engineer Richard Bastow told members Bisterne Estate had carried out ditch clearance with noticeable benefits.

Flood warden Angela Wiseman said regular maintenance of the existing ditch and drainage system was needed.

Cllr Richard Frampton said: "The council should not delay just because officially clearing the ditches is not within its remit."

Clerk Terry Simpson said: "The team will try and come up with a plan to reduce the incidents of flooding. It will not be a solution of clearing out the ditches in one particular area, as the water will go somewhere else.

"This area has been prone to flooding for years and years, but this is the worst it has been. However what it has done is concentrated everyone's mind on the problem. Now we are determined not to allow people to suffer this level of flooding again.”