Nov 232012

Cllr Fiona Hewer comments on current Flood Alerts and the unexpected announcement of increased council tax expenditure on flood defence infrastructure “Throwing large amounts of our money at infrastructure may look impressive, but it’s low cost practical help that will really make a difference this winter.”

The Environment Agency has issued Flood Alerts in the Royal Borough. This is the lowest level of warning, and residents are advised that in effected areas people should be prepared because flooding is possible.  Warnings are updated 24/7 on the EA website and its telephone floodline (0845 988 1188).

Local areas effected include Hurley, Bisham and Cookham. More rain is forecast tomorrow (Saturday 24th November) in the afternoon.

Cookham Parish Council, like others across the borough, is checking its Community Flood Plan, to try and make sure it is ready to co-ordinate non-emergency support for residents and businesses. It’s disappointing then, that the borough has spent its time on a press release about new infrastructure funding, rather than catching up with the back log  of practical measures local people may need if the Flood Alerts are escalated to Warnings of actual flooding in the next few days.  Infrastructure improvements may well be needed in the longer term, but they won’t help us this winter.

Parish Councils have been asking for new flood warning signs, so residents get clear warnings on the roadside of the status of the flood warning.  It’s embarrassing to admit, but the flood signs the borough gave us disintegrate in the rain and are now illegible!  Requests for new signs were made over a month ago but nothing has happened.

Parish Councils have also been calling for the post of permanent Borough Emergency Planning Officer to be filled.  Trained officers are filling the role in turn, when they are available, but Parish Councillors across the borough feel that a single point of contact to deal with would be more effective, and the officer would be more pro-active at resolving problems. Parish Councillors are unpaid volunteers. It would be easier to build a working relationship with an officer focused on this important area of responsibility.

Throwing large amounts of our money at infrastructure may sound impressive, but it’s low cost practical help that will really make a difference now.

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