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Flood 'emergency plan' must be looked at, say Three Rivers politicians
The absence of a proper “disaster plan” led to confusion as flood waters surged off the River Chess into the streets of Rickmansworth, according to councillors.
Now, politicians on Three Rivers District Council have demanded a strategy be drawn up to avert a repeat of the serious flooding around the town following a deluge earlier this month.
People in the district are still recovering from damage wrought after the River Chess burst its banks following one of the wettest Januaries on record.
Criticism that not enough was done to help residents deal with the floods has been levelled at the council.
At a Full Council meeting yesterday, politicians agreed to examine the district's "emergency plan" and look at "the lessons learnt from recent experience".
Politicians also agreed to: "Plan what can be done to reduce the impact of such weather conditions in future, including the alleviation of flooding."
The motion, which was put forward by Liberal Democrat leader of the council, Ann Shaw, and seconded by Councillor Phil Brading, stated: "In order to achieve greater clarity about where the responsibility for action lies, and better communications between the bodies concerned, the council will undertake a review of the emergency plan including the level of service to be provided."
Rickmansworth experienced serious flooding in Park Road, Harefield Road, Stockers Farm Road and, most recently, Uxbridge Road.
Councillor Sansom said that communication between the council and residents needed to be improved.
The conservative councillor said: "On February 3, a week before the floods, I emailed democratic services to ask about our disaster plan and got no reply. Residents who rang the council were all told different things."
Councillor Sansom said that, even though firefighters spent three days pumping water away from Park Road on Monday, February 11 chief executive, Steven Halls, "still thought there had been no emergency".
He added: "In the chief executive’s email on February 11, he said that he would not be supplying sandbags and that residents have had plenty of time to buy their own. Three Rivers would help vulnerable people but not people who had only suffered ground floor flooding.
"The Fire Service built a sandbag wall across Park Road so they could pump it out. How many sandbags do you think the residents should buy to prepare for the Fire Service to build a sandbag wall across their road?"
Councillor Sansom said that last year the Rickmansworth and District Residents' Association was asked by the Environment Agency to prepare a flood plan.
He added: "They (the residents association) got no co-operation from this council or the Environment Agency and therefore told the Environment Agency that they could not do it."
Councillor Shaw said that Three Rivers needs to "consider where the responsibility for action lies", which will involve talking with other authorities, such as Hertfordshire County Council.
She added: "I therefore propose that we look forwards instead of backwards and establish what can be done and work with other bodies to look at what can be done."