Update on investigations into recent county floods

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council
Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council

West Sussex County Council Leader, Louise Goldsmith, has told communities affected by the June floods that the investigation into what happened is being given the highest priority.

In an update to parish and town councils, she said that all agencies involved are also looking at drainage management and ways of helping to make local communities more resilient in future.

She has told residents that a report into what happened in June is expected to be published in November, and there will be a series of workshops to present the findings to the worst affected communities.

She has also issued a reminder about bids for a share of the Community Flood Fund, set-up by the county council, and appealed for details of any flood locations that have not been included on a list compiled by the main agencies.

Her letter says: “As promised I am writing to you to provide you with an update of the current position.

“A timetable has been set for the investigation which is looking to the publication of a report in November. It is proposed that a series of workshops will be set up to present this to the worst affected communities.

“Officers from the various agencies - West Sussex County Council, Arun District Council, Chichester District Council, the Environment Agency and Southern Water - have been compiling a list of locations where flooding is known to have occurred.

“I would be grateful if you could advise of any locations and extent of any flooding that you are aware of that may not have been reported – please could you email these as soon as possible to FRM@westsussex.gov.uk.

“The next stage, starting next week, is the prioritisation of the list and to assign the primary authority responsible for the investigation.

“Various questions have already emerged from various meetings including:

Who is responsible for the various sea and river outfalls?

Who is responsible for maintaining and enforcing the management of ditches?

What contingency arrangements are in place to deal with flooding in Felpham?

What storm capacity did the temporary outfalls have on the Medmerry Sea Defence Scheme?

Why were sluice gates in and around Chichester and the Manhood still set for drought conditions?

Why doesn’t the County Council just increase the capacity of the drainage system to deal with climate change?

The gullies outside my house always have water in - are they blocked/ why haven’t you cleaned them?

What does a 1 in 200 year event actually mean?

Who should my insurance company contact?

Why wasn’t I given sandbags after I called the council?

My road was flooded - why didn’t WSCC attend the site?

Will I still be able to get insurance if my property has flooded?

Will this happen again every year?

“Undoubtedly there will be other questions that residents want answered.

“I want this investigation to be as transparent as possible so if there are any specific questions you are aware of please forward these to the above email address.

“In addition to the investigation we are looking at how we can work better with communities to assist with drainage management, and the local response to flooding, to assist in making communities more resilient.

“We are looking at the Local Council Winter Maintenance Initiative and how we could extend this existing network in order to respond to all weather events.

“This might include the monitoring of local flooding hotspots to ensure ditches, outfalls and gully gratings remain clear, the provision of hazard signs for ‘Flooding’ or temporary ‘Road Closed’ signs for dealing with sudden local problems.

“We are also talking to the National Flood Forum to assist with this process, and to help in preparing local action plans and advising people on how they can make their homes more resilient.

“Unfortunately this isn’t expected to get off the ground until late August / September because of the extent of flooding elsewhere around the country where they are still providing assistance and guidance to flood victims.

“Please can I remind all Parish Councils of the Community Flood Fund which you received information on at the beginning of May, as so far only a few bids have been received.

“The main focus of this is to identify and assist with the clearing of riparian ditches (ones that are the responsibility of the land owner ).

“However, bids can be made for any drainage problem, and a copy of the original letter is attached for your convenience.

“The level of support offered will be dependent upon the severity of the problem and depending on the number of requests. Where property and public safety are at risk then these might be fully supported, others might only receive 50% match funding.

“It may not be possible to support all requests, but those that are not will go forward into a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy which is currently being prepared.

“This will set out how the total drainage network is managed, the responsibilities of the various parties and a long term plan of maintenance and improvement.

“If you have any other questions or concerns please forward these to FRM@westsussex.gov.uk.

“I want to assure you that the events of June and the impact they had on our communities is continuing to be given the highest priority by the County Council and all the other partner authorities and agencies.

“I will also ensure that you are kept fully informed”.