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Three Rivers' chief executive, Steven Halls, 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."
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?"
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."