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Wokingham Conservative Council's Flood Strategy doesn't hold water

November 10, 2014 10:00 AM

Wokingham Borough's Lib Dem councillors are extremely disappointed at the Conservative Council's proposed strategy for dealing with flooding.

Leader of the Lib Dems, Cllr Prue Bray (Winnersh ward) said "This Flood Strategy is not fit for purpose, it is full of holes and does not give any real indication of what the council intends to achieve, what the priorities are, or when they are to be expected to be done. Without specifics the measures are only aspirations, and tracking progress and performance will be impossible. We are concerned not just about flooding now but in the future, particularly if new homes are being built on or near the flood plain and the impact of this on existing properties. "

Prue added "I am extremely concerned about the lack of resource available to deal with flooding in our Borough. In September I asked the Conservative responsible for this area what physical work is actually being done to prevent flooding, I was told that staff shortages and the work on the routine day job has meant any other work will take longer to happen. This is just not good enough, the Conservatives need to get on top of flooding and put resources into tackling it."

The Lib Dems have been pressing the Conservatives on flood prevention. Earlier this year at the March Council Meeting, Lib Dem Cllr Tom McCann (Loddon ward) said to the Conservatives "You have failed communities, and you have failed to implement any real flood prevention and mitigation measures. You have known about key 'at flood risk' areas like the traffic lights at Showcase cinema and you still did nothing. I will accept that this year's flooding was far worse than our normal amount of rain, but by 'not fixing the roof while the sun is shining', you have failed us all."

Winnersh Councillors Prue and Rachel at the flooded Showcase Roundabout earlier in 2014

Winnersh Lib-Dem Councillors Prue and Rachel at the flooded Showcase Roundabout earlier in 2014

MORE DETAIL:

At the Council Meeting on 18th September 2014, Cllr Prue Bray asked the Executive Member Angus Ross:

Question

At the Council meeting in March, it was resolved to set up a Flood Review task force, what has been done and when since then?

Answer

Thank you Prue for your question and the opportunity to update the Council on this matter.

Since March the following work has been progressed:-

Firstly, a flood investigation report is being prepared. We are working with our consultants WSP to both:

 identify which risk management authorities have relevant flood risk management functions, and

 decide whether each of those risk management authorities has exercised, or is proposing to exercise, these functions in response to the flood.

Work has also started to:-

 document local experiences of the recent floods,

 identify the causes and consequences of recent floods

 identify potential measures to alleviate current / future flood events.

We will be meeting with all the Parishes and affected residents and the results of this investigation will be published.

Officers have been looking at the possibility of raising various of the 'A' roads around the Borough to bring them up to a level where flood waters are unlikely to reach. The issues that need to be addressed are that the works cannot allow further flooding of properties, including those much further upstream of the flooding. Modelling is currently being undertaken by our partner WSP to determine the effects of a range of potential solutions which will inform a programme of works.

I plan to bring to Council the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy, a draft of Phase One of the Flood Investigation Report and an update on the efforts to protect the 'A' roads I mentioned in November.

Supplementary Question

I am grateful for the last piece of information about November which we will look forward to. There are a lot of things started in there but not so much actual work on the ground. I wonder if you could give us some indication of when you might actually do something, something physical, some physical work, to actually prevent any flooding?

Supplementary Answer

You make me sound like a Dutch man putting his finger in the dam. Clearly the works to the 'A' roads will depend on the findings of the practicalities and costs involved. All I would say is we are working on all of these things but with staff shortages and as it were, the day job of all the routine work to clear road drains and the rest, has put this at a longer timescale then I would have hoped but I can assure you that there will be positive things coming forward for Council.