Memorandum submitted by Graham Stuart
MP (FL MP 09)
Thank you for your letter dated 24th July. I
am delighted that your committee will be examining the recent
flooding when the House returns.
The East Riding of Yorkshire has been devastated
by the floods. Four towns in my constituencyBeverley, Hornsea,
Withernsea and Hedonhave been affected, along with many
village communities in between, such as Thorngumbald and Ottringham.
At one stage, residents of Hornsea were cut off entirely by flood
During the initial downpour, the local area
received one sixth of its annual rainfall in 12 hours. Humberside
Fire and Rescue Service received more than 3,000 phone calls and
the Police received a further 4,800 calls. According to the East
Riding of Yorkshire Council, 5,700 homes have been affected. In
my constituency, the most conservative estimate is that at least
1,200 homes have been flooded.
Much went right with the response operation.
All the agencies involved worked incredibly hard to deal with
the emergency and individual staff went above and beyond what
could be reasonably expected of them. Communities came together
to help out their neighbours.
The following are issues that I think could
usefully be investigated by your committee:
1. Flood Rescue. No one agency is responsible
for flood rescue. This duty, in my opinion, should be given to
the fire service. This may not need to be a statutory responsibility
so long as a decision is taken and funding is provided. Officers
should not enter water again in equipment designed purely for
fighting fires. Mazen Khuri (Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Humberside
Fire & Rescue Service) has helped establish a scheme for marine
rescue which, he believes, could be used as a model for flood
rescue. Perhaps he could be asked to contribute.
2. Maintenance of drains and outlets by the
Environment Agency (EA). Internal Drainage Boards including the
Beverley & Holderness IDB believe that the failure of the
EA to carry out proper maintenance contributed to the length and
extent of floods caused by overtopping of drains such as Burstwick
Drain. The EA say that lack of maintenance, the failure of outlet
doors and the non-installation of pumps made no material difference.
This dispute needs to be resolved.
3. Protection of critical infrastructure.
Power, sewage and other systems need to be more resilient to flood
4. Need for a central register of drainage
pumps. No one in the East Riding knew where they all were and
who owned them.
5. Responsibility Gaps. Identify any areas
in addition to flood rescue where responsibility is not clearly
assigned to a specific agency or agencies.
6. Call handling. What can be done to improve
ability of emergency services to cope with huge spikes in calls?
Evaluate likely impact of regional call centres and loss of local
control over asset use and priority setting for the fire service.
7. Emergency planning. Does this need to
be more ground up rather than top down? Should parish and town
councils have their own plans in place?
8. Flash floods. Flash floods and the failure
of sewers to cope with them is little understood. Should there
be increased research and does one agency need to be made responsible
for all surface water issues?
I hope these points are of use and that you
have a successful inquiry.
Graham Stuart MP
Beverley and Holderness