Cotswolds MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown organised and chaired a series of separate flood progress consultation meetings with regards to Moreton-in-March, Lechlade and Fairford.
The meetings were attended by representatives from the Environment Agency, Thames Water, Gloucestershire Highways and Councillors from the relevant County, District, Town and Parish Councils along with concerned members of the public.
At the Lechlade meeting, favourable progress was reported by both Cotswold District Council and the Environment Agency in relation to ditch cleaning schemes, but more work remains needed to prevent a few vulnerable homes from future flooding risks. However, the Environment Agency reported that their recent detailed mapping exercise had shown that the number of vulnerable houses had been vastly reduced from approximately 200 in 2007 to just a couple of dozen now, and this should ease the problems of gaining flood insurance for a great many householders. With regards to Fairford, it was reported that although good work had been made in cleaning gullys, the funding for a major relief scheme has not yet been forthcoming from the Environment Agency.
During the meeting in Moreton, there was frustration that the rubbish screen to the culvert underneath the railway line had still not been installed nearly three years after the flooding and there were concerns about the possible impact on flood resilience that would be caused by the building of the new hospital and the proposed housing developments by CALA homes and the Fire Service College. The recent flooding prompted further concerns from local residents as to why it took so long to diagnose the cause of the flooding – a blocked manhole cover – and why action to close of the flood hit roads took so long.
Commenting on all three meetings, Mr Clifton-Brown said:
“Those attending the Lechlade meeting, which was the first of its kind for these residents, have spoken to me about how useful it was to be able to get all the relevant agencies and local authorities in one room to look at the problem as a whole. Tackling this issue requires long term commitment and co-ordination, but it is essential that the residents in all three previously affected areas know what progress has been made and what work still needs to be done.”
Mr Clifton-Brown was also able to use the opportunity of the meeting in Moreton, to hold a separate meeting subsequent to the flood discussions to hear in detail of residents concerns with regards to the housing developments in the Town at a meeting attended by representatives from CALA homes and the Fire Service College, who are proposing two separate housing projects.
It was clear at the meeting that there was almost unanimous concern from residents about the impacts that the proposals would have on the town. It was felt that 300 houses, let alone 600 if both schemes were approved, would have a severe impact on the sustainability of a town with currently around 1500 houses.
Many questions focussed upon the impact they would have on flood resilience and local highways, due in part to the fact that the listed railway bridge cannot be widened. Others queried the need for the number of affordable houses offered by each development and whether the houses, when available on the open market, would be affordable by local people due to relatively low incomes in the local area. Neither developer was able to provide a breakdown of the number and size of each type of property proposed.
Speaking after the meeting the MP added:
“I am deeply concerned about the impact these developments would have on the sustainability of the town and its roads and their impact on flood resilience measures that have already been made and are proposed for the future. Furthermore, I can envisage the town in total gridlock during the busy summer months”
He has promised to contact Cotswold District Council and make clear that in making any decisions on either application they must consider, in detail, all these points that were raised at the meeting.
Source: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP Cotswolds