Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Sir Peter Tapsell MP (FL MP 14a)

  This is a good summary by a constituent of mine of the packed public meeting we had on 3 October, at my instigation, in Louth Town Hall, following the recent flooding in my constituency which I attended and which I thought you might like to see.

Sir Peter Tapsell MP

11 October 2007

  All official representative at Louth Public Flood Meeting held on 03.10.07.

  Dear representatives of the Environment Agency, Lindsey Marsh Drainage Board, Lincolnshire County Council, Anglian Water, East Lindsey District Council, Louth Town Council and Sir Peter Tapsell.

  Further to the public meeting held at Louth Town Hall on 03.10.07 in regard to the recent floods:

  At this meeting the floor was packed with local residents, many of whom remain devastated by the recent floods. We all wanted questions answered and firm promises made with confidence about the strategies that will be taken to prevent such a large-scale disaster from recurring.

  Having listened to and spoken with fellow members of the audience on the floor and having put two questions to the representatives on stage myself, I have to report, through publishing this letter wherever possible, that questions were not answered and our confidence in the authorities on stage was not inspired.

  In general terms the authorities seem to be resting behind a degree of complacency. For example the quote "A flood like this only happens once in 200 years" was mentioned by representatives of the Environment Agency at least twice but they made no reference whatsoever to "Climate Change". In fact the statistics quoted have been proved to be no indicator whatsoever as we had two serious floods within two months. All informed and observant citizens are aware that the climate is indeed changing and that the predictions are that flooding is going to be a serious problem in the future. We cannot afford to be complacent and we cannot have confidence in authorities that hide behind unrealistic statistics. We need immediate action, forward planning and a lot of funding to meet the challenges ahead. We need to know that the authorities have employees with the required abilities to meet these challenges.

  Some questions the "authorities" did not even attempt to answer. They just sat on stage, staring at each other with open mouths. They simply did not know what to say and had no answers. This caricature vision could have struck the audience as being very funny if the frightening reality that the "authorities" were uncoordinated and uninformed was not so deadly serious.

  Clearly the "authorities" need galvanising into action. They need to do the jobs they are paid for and do them conscientiously and well. They need to be shaken out of this complacency and realise they are dealing with intelligent human beings with a lot of common sense and justifiable concerns. They need to listen to these people and instead of finding excuses to get by with not putting in maximum effort, they need to take up this campaign with zest and enthusiasm to ensure Louth is protected, as much as is humanely possible, from future flooding. They would then find it is far more rewarding to do their job well. Once the "people" know they can trust and work with the "authorities", instead of feeling bucks are being passed and excuses made, everyone would be able to work together constructively. If employees of these "authorities" are not up to their job they should be replaced.

  As a result of the meeting clear issues were raised that did not receive clear answers. These issues are as follows:

    —  Waterways need to be dredged regularly and need to be seen to be.

    —  There needs to be a central co-ordinator at times of risk of flooding.

    —  Additional drainage/reservoir engineering works in the Wolds to prevent surges of flood into Louth need to be funded urgently.

    —  Drains in Louth need to be cleared regularly—with forward planning there should be no lame excuses (such as were made at the meeting) that parked cars over drains prevents this vital maintenance.

    —  Building on the flood plains is a hazard that has not and it not being adequately addressed. Had the planners employed even elementary common sense the plans for any hard landscaping on the flood plain should never have been passed.

  In conclusion I would like to raise again the two questions I raised at the meeting which the "authorities" failed to answer.

    1.  I have supplied the Environment Agency with photographs of the June flooding on the flood plain building site adjacent to the canal at the end of Riverhead Road. When those buildings are actually erected and the site covered with hard landscaping, where will that flood water go in future floods and exactly what measures are being taken to protect third parties/neighbouring areas (which is a requirement in law), such as Thames Street, which at present is not at risk of flooding, but could be in the future as a result of this new development?

    2.  How come I got a phone call from "floodline" early in the morning and well before the flood, on the day of the flood, to warn me of imminent danger to life and property, so that I was prepared, yet the person responsible for sounding the siren which could have warned and prepared others who were not registered with "floodline", did not know there was imminent danger and failed to sound the siren in time?

Prisca Furlong (Mrs)

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