More than £540,000 will be spent by Cotswold District Council on helping to protect the District against future floods, it was announced today.
The Council’s Cabinet has agreed to spend the majority of its £623,000 Flood Recovery Grant on a range of measures to improve land drainage and assist towns and parishes to prepare for any future emergencies.
An estimated £75,000 of the money, awarded to the Council by the Government in the wake of the summer’s unprecedented rainfall, is already being awarded to vulnerable victims and residents forced to live in caravans or upstairs after their homes were flooded.
Council Leader Cllr Lynden Stowe said: “The clear message we have received from the community is that they want to see the grant spent on flood protection measures so that less distress and disruption is caused if the Cotswolds is hit by a similar event in future.
“However, I must stress that the money available to us is not going to go very far. We will lobby partner agencies such as the Environment Agency, water authorities and county council to play their part along with individual landowners.
“While the Council ‘polices’ land drainage it is not our legal responsibility to carry out work on water courses owned by other people. However, we do have the power to require the work to be done and if necessary take action to ensure it is carried out.
“In the past, we have often entered into an agreement with the owners and the county council to share the costs of such works. We currently have an annual budget of £35,000 to make such contributions. The decision taken today effectively uses some of the recovery grant to increase our ability to enter into such arrangements.
“We need to be mindful that this is public money and must be spent carefully – not used simply to meet other people’s obligations.”
The range of flood protection measures the Cabinet agreed to fund include:
- Between £25,000 and £60,000 by engaging a second drainage engineer to up to a year to help deal with the volume of work.
- £30,000 engaging consultants to identify land drainage problems and priorities
- £100,000 on identifying landowners and enforcing land drainage duties, working with partners such as the county council and Environment Agency
- £40,000 on carrying out strategic land drainage improvements
- £200,000 in grant funding for Town & Parish Councils to improve local flood resilience and plan for emergencies, up to a maximum of £10,000 per parish.
- £45,000 to help Town & Parish Councils develop their planning for emergencies, which includes employing an extra officer for one year to provide advice and support
- £1,500 on hosting Flood Protection Information sessions for Town & Parish Councils, with the Environment Agency.
After taking into account the payments to individuals, this leaves a contingency of just over £70,000 in case further funds are needed for the above projects.
Cllr Stowe added: “Although we only have a limited amount of money, we have got to make sure that our efforts result in some real work being carried out on the ground.
“We fully appreciate the distress caused to our residents by the events of the July and we want to do as much as we are able to future proof the District against flooding.”