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Lib Dems propose action plan to tackle Surrey’s flooding

March 3, 2014 11:37 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Flooding at Eashing Bridge in GodalmingLiberal Democrats are proposing a six point action plan to tackle Surrey's flooding. The proposals aim to reduce the impact of future heavy rain by putting in place preventative measures. They are:

  1. Complete and update Surrey County Council's currently outdated records on where flooding occurs (wetspots) and the Flooding Asset Register of walls, ditches and bridges which are known to cause flooding.
  2. Increase the cleaning of gullies (road drains) which is currently usually only once a year.
  3. Plant trees, particularly on high ground. An environmentally friendly way of trapping and slowing down the movement of water.
  4. Work with districts and boroughs not to build on flood plains.
  5. Repair flood damaged roads and bridges.
  6. Apply for funding from central government and the European Union.

Stephen Cooksey said: "These actions if implemented by the County Council will make a real difference to prevent the flooding in Surrey in the future.

"The recent floods have had a devastating effect on many residents and businesses. Everything possible must be done to reduce the risk of this recurring.

"The Conservative administration at County Hall has taken its eye off the ball and has not given enough priority to flood prevention. Basic things are very out of date, for example its record of places where flooding occurs 'wetspots' hasn't been updated for two years.

"Similarly the County Council's Flooding Asset Register, in which the County Council is legally required to record details of walls, ditches or bridges known to cause flooding is woefully incomplete, only recording 65 items for the whole county, and is out of date having last been updated over two years ago.

"The County Council urgently needs to get its act together, update its information on flooding and structures that cause flooding before assessing what needs to be done to prevent flooding in the future and to calculate the cost of doing so.

"I question the adequacy of the council's policy of only cleaning out gullies at least once a year, this clearly needs to be increased as many of Surrey's gullies are blocked, which then causes flooding. In addition the County Council needs to dig out more ditches in rural areas to help prevent flooding.

"Whilst Surrey County Council's staff, the emergency services and other agencies have done an excellent job in responding to this crisis, much could have been done to lessen the impact of the recent bad weather if the County Council had taken preventative action, and lessons need to be learnt and acted upon to ensure the effects of future heavy rainfall is reduced."

ENDS

NOTES

Liberal Democrat motion to Surrey County Council meeting 18 March

Proposed Stephen Cooksey

Seconded Ian Beardsmore

This council wishes to place on formal record its thanks to all staff and its contractors, who working tirelessly in partnership with other councils, agencies and the emergency services to respond to the recent and current flooding to do as much as possible to protect residents' homes and businesses.

While recognising this weather has been exceptional by past standards the County now has a statutory duty to investigate flooding and the need to understand better the impacts of the recent events. The Council must now plan for similar occurrences and learn from any omissions or failures which may have contributed to the scale of the flooding-related problems in Surrey. Particular attention should be paid to how the resilience of the county's infrastructure against recurrence of such events can be strengthened, especially on gully maintenance, and whether any improvements can be made in cross authority and cross agency working.

Council notes:

1. That Government has a Severe Weather Recovery scheme and that the European Union has a Solidarity Fund to which the UK has contributed and is designed to provide emergency aid after such natural disasters. In addition European Union Regional Development Funds can be used towards flood prevention infrastructure in the future.

2. The date of the most recent published wetspots list, where past flooding incidents have been reported, on the County Council website is February 2012 even though an update was promised to members to be completed by February 2013.

3. That the statutory Flooding Asset Register which includes key assets (structures and features such as a wall, ditch or bridge) that are known to cause or allow the major flooding of properties, critical infrastructure or block major roads when the asset is not functioning to an adequate level was last updated in December 2011 and only contains 65 items for the whole county.

Council calls for:

i. The Flooding Asset Register and the wetspots list to both be completed and updated urgently, and at most within six months.

ii. A review of the maintenance of highway drainage assets such as gullies, soakaways, ditches, channels, drains, grills and outlets. In particular a review of the adequacy of the policy of gully cleaning at least once per year and put together a ditching programme in rural areas.

iii. A programme of tree planting on higher ground, in particular to replace trees that have been lost, to help trap and slow down the movement of water.

iv. The County Council to work with boroughs and districts to develop planning policies not to build on flood plains.

v. Flood damaged roads and bridges to be repaired.

vi. The Leader to apply for any additional funding the County Council requires from the Severe Weather Recovery scheme, the European Union Solidarity Fund and the Regional Development Fund.