Three Rivers' chief executive, Steven Halls, criticised over sandbag remarks

Watford Observer: Floods: council chief criticised over sandbag remarks Floods: council chief criticised over sandbag remarks

Three Rivers' chief executive has been criticised for remarks made about those affected by serious flooding in the district.

Conservative Councillor David Sansom, who represents flood-hit Rickmansworth, was angered by Steven Halls’ dismissive response about what plans the council has to help protect residents’ properties from future floods.

The exchange was prompted by water deluging into the bottom of Park Road on Friday resulting in a desperate scramble to prevent the flooding reaching homes in the street.

Homes in Harefield Road were also swamped when rivers in the district became overwhelmed last week.

In response to an email from Councillor Sansom, Dr Halls said: "We are not going to be supplying sandbags in future as this simply is not a district function.

"We shall carry a stock to protect Three Rivers District Council buildings but the default position is that we shall not be supplying sandbags to residents.

"This winter, they have had ample time to prepare themselves and buy their own."

Watford Observer:

Chief executive Steven Halls

He later added: "I am considering carrying a stock to sell to residents out of hours."

Following the email, Councillor Sansom said: "I think it is wrong at times of crises for Three Rivers District Council to decide that the only buildings worth spending taxpayers’ money on defending with sandbags are the council buildings.

"I know that it is not a district function to deal with flooding but do they not think that the Environment Agency might be quite busy at the moment and that helping Three Rivers’ own residents with free sandbags might be a reasonable thing to do?"

Watford Observer:

Councillor David Sansom

Councillor Sansom added: "Last weekend, Three Rivers officers were out sandbagging the banks of the Chess in Scotsbridge, they did a great job.

"Every resident I have spoken to has said the same, the guys on the ground are great, but speak to anybody at the Three Rivers offices and you will get excuses and buck passing."

This morning, Dr Halls, who works four days a week and receives a basic salary of £116,181, released a statement about flooding in the district.

He said: "My sympathies are with the small number of householders who have been directly affected and we are fortunate that so far the impact of the floods has been relatively minor compared to other parts of the country.

"Routine maintenance of our riverbanks includes the temporary use of sandbags to bolster areas of erosion. While these sandbags in themselves would not prevent a major flood, they do help to alleviate the impact on flooding."

Dr Halls said the council has distributed 3,000 sandbags to help in the flooding and confirmed that he is considering selling bags to private residents in the future.

He added: "I must remind residents, however, of their responsibility to plan ahead and protect their homes.

"We are looking at how we may help with sandbag provision in the future, but it is essential that we all, as private residents, plan ahead. As always, please look out for elderly and vulnerable neighbours and information, advice and updates are available from the Council and other national and local agencies."

Comments (11)

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1:51pm Thu 13 Feb 14

morganwilliam says...

It is not the Council duty to supply sandbags to Hertfordshire residents as this would put the already high rates up again. They do have a responsibility to protect their own buildings to save repair costs going on the rates. It is very insensitive to suggest that residents have had time to plan for this. Who knew it was going to be this bad? Who knew the water table would be so high and flooding would occur in some of the places it did? The Council do need to look at their emergency planning to see if sand and bags can be obtained from suppliers at short notice, possibly being sold at cost to residents, support for the elderly and unemployed by sponsorship from building supplies companies and a change in legislation to allow money from developers (which is meant to be spent on roads) to be diverted into emergency planning. Hundreds of thousands of pounds is given back to developers every year in Herts because it is not spent. This money would solve a lot of disaster situations.
It is not the Council duty to supply sandbags to Hertfordshire residents as this would put the already high rates up again. They do have a responsibility to protect their own buildings to save repair costs going on the rates. It is very insensitive to suggest that residents have had time to plan for this. Who knew it was going to be this bad? Who knew the water table would be so high and flooding would occur in some of the places it did? The Council do need to look at their emergency planning to see if sand and bags can be obtained from suppliers at short notice, possibly being sold at cost to residents, support for the elderly and unemployed by sponsorship from building supplies companies and a change in legislation to allow money from developers (which is meant to be spent on roads) to be diverted into emergency planning. Hundreds of thousands of pounds is given back to developers every year in Herts because it is not spent. This money would solve a lot of disaster situations. morganwilliam
  • Score: 6

2:07pm Thu 13 Feb 14

G_Whiz says...

There really is a bigger picture to what is happening now, and how our future will develop. Sandbags are such a sideshow.

We will continue to have wetter winters and drier summers - there is no denying it.

Labour and Liberals have wanted the population of this country to grow rapidly. It has, and will continue massively - The latest birth curve stats are amazing.

Fuel and food shortages are predicted in 20 years time.

Food, because more crops will fail, many more people will need that food, and richer countries will be able to outbid us on our usual suppliers - and of course we will not be able to grow enough of our own food!

So the above points to a need of massive housebuilding, more reservoirs, more roads, more infrastructure, more farming....... That is what we need to solve - are we doing that?...... Do we have the room to do all that?......

Somethings got to give!!!!!

Chaos will ensue and a few of us will sadly say - we told you so!
There really is a bigger picture to what is happening now, and how our future will develop. Sandbags are such a sideshow. We will continue to have wetter winters and drier summers - there is no denying it. Labour and Liberals have wanted the population of this country to grow rapidly. It has, and will continue massively - The latest birth curve stats are amazing. Fuel and food shortages are predicted in 20 years time. Food, because more crops will fail, many more people will need that food, and richer countries will be able to outbid us on our usual suppliers - and of course we will not be able to grow enough of our own food! So the above points to a need of massive housebuilding, more reservoirs, more roads, more infrastructure, more farming....... That is what we need to solve - are we doing that?...... Do we have the room to do all that?...... Somethings got to give!!!!! Chaos will ensue and a few of us will sadly say - we told you so! G_Whiz
  • Score: 7

3:00pm Thu 13 Feb 14

not a regular says...

G_Whiz wrote:
There really is a bigger picture to what is happening now, and how our future will develop. Sandbags are such a sideshow. We will continue to have wetter winters and drier summers - there is no denying it. Labour and Liberals have wanted the population of this country to grow rapidly. It has, and will continue massively - The latest birth curve stats are amazing. Fuel and food shortages are predicted in 20 years time. Food, because more crops will fail, many more people will need that food, and richer countries will be able to outbid us on our usual suppliers - and of course we will not be able to grow enough of our own food! So the above points to a need of massive housebuilding, more reservoirs, more roads, more infrastructure, more farming....... That is what we need to solve - are we doing that?...... Do we have the room to do all that?...... Somethings got to give!!!!! Chaos will ensue and a few of us will sadly say - we told you so!
Not that I disagree, in fact I am one of the most cynical people around I'd say...

But are you doing anything proactive or just talking about it? I just talk about it, I'm personally a terrible example. Of course, not that an individual can do anything in Short-term Britain.
[quote][p][bold]G_Whiz[/bold] wrote: There really is a bigger picture to what is happening now, and how our future will develop. Sandbags are such a sideshow. We will continue to have wetter winters and drier summers - there is no denying it. Labour and Liberals have wanted the population of this country to grow rapidly. It has, and will continue massively - The latest birth curve stats are amazing. Fuel and food shortages are predicted in 20 years time. Food, because more crops will fail, many more people will need that food, and richer countries will be able to outbid us on our usual suppliers - and of course we will not be able to grow enough of our own food! So the above points to a need of massive housebuilding, more reservoirs, more roads, more infrastructure, more farming....... That is what we need to solve - are we doing that?...... Do we have the room to do all that?...... Somethings got to give!!!!! Chaos will ensue and a few of us will sadly say - we told you so![/p][/quote]Not that I disagree, in fact I am one of the most cynical people around I'd say... But are you doing anything proactive or just talking about it? I just talk about it, I'm personally a terrible example. Of course, not that an individual can do anything in Short-term Britain. not a regular
  • Score: 2

3:40pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Roadrunner38 says...

David Cameron has said that councils should supply sandbags free of charge to residents. The cost will be reimbursed by central government.
David Cameron has said that councils should supply sandbags free of charge to residents. The cost will be reimbursed by central government. Roadrunner38
  • Score: 3

3:46pm Thu 13 Feb 14

foxybingo says...

Maybe they wouldn't need sandbags if more of the rivers were dredged
Maybe they wouldn't need sandbags if more of the rivers were dredged foxybingo
  • Score: 0

11:28pm Thu 13 Feb 14

cgpc Rob says...

When do TRDC residents get the opportunity to vote on CEOs?

We pay their wages and they possibly make crass remarks, who advises them? after the debacle of William Penn, where it appears they wasted £4.4 million of residents money, accept a pay rise with pension contributions you might think they wouldn't,
When do TRDC residents get the opportunity to vote on CEOs? We pay their wages and they possibly make crass remarks, who advises them? after the debacle of William Penn, where it appears they wasted £4.4 million of residents money, accept a pay rise with pension contributions you might think they wouldn't, cgpc Rob
  • Score: 6

9:13am Fri 14 Feb 14

garston tony says...

I do think the council should supply sandbags to the vulnerable/elderly but at the same time he does have a point, the onus should be on the home/property owners to deal with this type of thing themselves.

The default position whenever something goes wrong is to blame someone else and/or to expect someone else to clear up the mess. Its about time we got back to the position where people took responsibility for themselves.

As to dregging rivers it might have made a bit of a difference in places around Watford where the flooding has relatively speaking been little but in places like Somerset the focus on that has been ridiculous as the sheer volume of water means even with dredged rivers there would have been horrendous flooding.

The issue is the unprecendented levels of rainfall in the modern era, already saturated ground so the water is not sinking in and yes land being developed which has changed the natural dynamics. River dredging is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things.
I do think the council should supply sandbags to the vulnerable/elderly but at the same time he does have a point, the onus should be on the home/property owners to deal with this type of thing themselves. The default position whenever something goes wrong is to blame someone else and/or to expect someone else to clear up the mess. Its about time we got back to the position where people took responsibility for themselves. As to dregging rivers it might have made a bit of a difference in places around Watford where the flooding has relatively speaking been little but in places like Somerset the focus on that has been ridiculous as the sheer volume of water means even with dredged rivers there would have been horrendous flooding. The issue is the unprecendented levels of rainfall in the modern era, already saturated ground so the water is not sinking in and yes land being developed which has changed the natural dynamics. River dredging is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things. garston tony
  • Score: 8

9:42am Fri 14 Feb 14

Maclanx says...

foxybingo wrote:
Maybe they wouldn't need sandbags if more of the rivers were dredged
Don't think you can dredge a chalk river, like ours are.
[quote][p][bold]foxybingo[/bold] wrote: Maybe they wouldn't need sandbags if more of the rivers were dredged[/p][/quote]Don't think you can dredge a chalk river, like ours are. Maclanx
  • Score: 2

10:22am Fri 14 Feb 14

G_Whiz says...

not a regular wrote:
G_Whiz wrote:
There really is a bigger picture to what is happening now, and how our future will develop. Sandbags are such a sideshow. We will continue to have wetter winters and drier summers - there is no denying it. Labour and Liberals have wanted the population of this country to grow rapidly. It has, and will continue massively - The latest birth curve stats are amazing. Fuel and food shortages are predicted in 20 years time. Food, because more crops will fail, many more people will need that food, and richer countries will be able to outbid us on our usual suppliers - and of course we will not be able to grow enough of our own food! So the above points to a need of massive housebuilding, more reservoirs, more roads, more infrastructure, more farming....... That is what we need to solve - are we doing that?...... Do we have the room to do all that?...... Somethings got to give!!!!! Chaos will ensue and a few of us will sadly say - we told you so!
Not that I disagree, in fact I am one of the most cynical people around I'd say...

But are you doing anything proactive or just talking about it? I just talk about it, I'm personally a terrible example. Of course, not that an individual can do anything in Short-term Britain.
I only have common sense, and see the facts as they are. I am not full of enough bull and neither am i'm P.C. enough to work my way up to any power of influence i'm afraid!

To solve anything in this country Political correctness will have to be thrown out the window, stop pampering the rich, especially tax avoiders. And just make everyone accountable for their actions, whether they are MP's, councillors, bankers, fraudsters or criminals.

We all know that's not going to happen, so we will 'ALL' suffer the consequences!
[quote][p][bold]not a regular[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]G_Whiz[/bold] wrote: There really is a bigger picture to what is happening now, and how our future will develop. Sandbags are such a sideshow. We will continue to have wetter winters and drier summers - there is no denying it. Labour and Liberals have wanted the population of this country to grow rapidly. It has, and will continue massively - The latest birth curve stats are amazing. Fuel and food shortages are predicted in 20 years time. Food, because more crops will fail, many more people will need that food, and richer countries will be able to outbid us on our usual suppliers - and of course we will not be able to grow enough of our own food! So the above points to a need of massive housebuilding, more reservoirs, more roads, more infrastructure, more farming....... That is what we need to solve - are we doing that?...... Do we have the room to do all that?...... Somethings got to give!!!!! Chaos will ensue and a few of us will sadly say - we told you so![/p][/quote]Not that I disagree, in fact I am one of the most cynical people around I'd say... But are you doing anything proactive or just talking about it? I just talk about it, I'm personally a terrible example. Of course, not that an individual can do anything in Short-term Britain.[/p][/quote]I only have common sense, and see the facts as they are. I am not full of enough bull and neither am i'm P.C. enough to work my way up to any power of influence i'm afraid! To solve anything in this country Political correctness will have to be thrown out the window, stop pampering the rich, especially tax avoiders. And just make everyone accountable for their actions, whether they are MP's, councillors, bankers, fraudsters or criminals. We all know that's not going to happen, so we will 'ALL' suffer the consequences! G_Whiz
  • Score: 5

6:51pm Fri 14 Feb 14

Masquerade says...

This is an outrageous comment for Dr Halls to make about the well-being of the Three Rivers residents who pay his hugely inflated salary!! I would expect the Council to do everything in their power to try and help residents in flood areas, not try making a profit by 'selling' them sand bags in future. No doubt Dr Halls could afford to buy a rather large supply of sandbags with his £100,000 + salary ... If he actually lived in the area he makes decisions about. He was ultimately responsible for wasting millions of tax payers pounds on the William Penn development and he is quibbling about helping residents to flood-proof their homes in times of emergency. This is not a situation that most people have been able to prepare for and I don't know how Dr Halls expect the elderly people in the community to flood-proof their homes (or be able to afford to do so!!). Maybe he could forego his bonus this year and donate it to helping others !!!!
This is an outrageous comment for Dr Halls to make about the well-being of the Three Rivers residents who pay his hugely inflated salary!! I would expect the Council to do everything in their power to try and help residents in flood areas, not try making a profit by 'selling' them sand bags in future. No doubt Dr Halls could afford to buy a rather large supply of sandbags with his £100,000 + salary ... If he actually lived in the area he makes decisions about. He was ultimately responsible for wasting millions of tax payers pounds on the William Penn development and he is quibbling about helping residents to flood-proof their homes in times of emergency. This is not a situation that most people have been able to prepare for and I don't know how Dr Halls expect the elderly people in the community to flood-proof their homes (or be able to afford to do so!!). Maybe he could forego his bonus this year and donate it to helping others !!!! Masquerade
  • Score: 2

7:51pm Fri 14 Feb 14

Croxley_Norman says...

Steven Halls has a lot of nerve complaining about the cost to the council of providing sand bags and criticising residents for failing to prepare. I assume from his condescending remarks that he has a lightening conductor on each of his houses in case of storms and a rainwater collection system for times of drought in preparation.

His comments smack of double standards when the council taxpayers pay his eye watering wages which are based on a 5 day week. When HE decided to take a day off every single week his wages were not pro rata'd to 4 days like he imposes on all of his staff. No, Mr Halls retains 100% of his undeserved wages meaning that 3 Rivers residents are paying him to give Cello lessons to over privileged children.

In addition to this if Mr Halls had not squandered millions on the Penn **** up there would be plenty left to supply sand bags to the people who pay his wages.
Steven Halls has a lot of nerve complaining about the cost to the council of providing sand bags and criticising residents for failing to prepare. I assume from his condescending remarks that he has a lightening conductor on each of his houses in case of storms and a rainwater collection system for times of drought in preparation. His comments smack of double standards when the council taxpayers pay his eye watering wages which are based on a 5 day week. When HE decided to take a day off every single week his wages were not pro rata'd to 4 days like he imposes on all of his staff. No, Mr Halls retains 100% of his undeserved wages meaning that 3 Rivers residents are paying him to give Cello lessons to over privileged children. In addition to this if Mr Halls had not squandered millions on the Penn **** up there would be plenty left to supply sand bags to the people who pay his wages. Croxley_Norman
  • Score: 2

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