Severn Stoke could get its own flood defences after crisis meeting

Evesham Journal: Christian Wilcox, a flood risk team leader, shows residents plans which could protect their homes. Christian Wilcox, a flood risk team leader, shows residents plans which could protect their homes.

A VILLAGE could soon get its own flood defences after last month's devastating deluge swamped the village in raw sewage.

Severn Stoke could soon enjoy the same protection as Kempsey, Upton and parts of Worcester after a crisis meeting at the village hall today led to a rallying call from flood-hit villagers. They were able to see drawings of a scheme with an earth embankment which many hope could spare them future misery.

The villagers have become grimly accustomed to the damage inflicted by the rising river Severn after heavy rains last month led to the flooding 19 homes, the village hall, St Denys Church and the Rose and Crown pub.

The meeting, called and chaired by Malvern Hills district councillor David Harrison, was attended by between 70 and 100 villagers who packed out the hall, many standing at the edges of the room. MP Harriett Baldwin, flood consultant Mary Dhonau and representatives from the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water also attended.

Speaking of neighbouring Kempsey's defences ex-colonel Brian Clarke, chairman of the Kempsey Flood Action Group (Flag), said: "What happened in Kempsey needs to be done here." The group raised £5,500 towards their flood defences which he said showed the Environment Agency they were "serious". Once they set up Flag and put some money into the kitty he said other funding streams opened, including from the parish council and county council. Severn Stoke also has its own Flag and there were calls for more people to join at the meeting.

Planning for the flood defences is at an early stage for Severn Stoke but villagers were able to pour over a scheme which would involve building an earth embankment, three metres high in places, and with a two metre wide ridge on top of the sloping earth wall. A surface water pond could also help absorb flood water, forming a basin to take the excess. No costings have yet been drawn up or a timescale and the success of the scheme hinges on the co-operation of landowners, villagers and other bodies.

Harriett Baldwin said Severn Stoke was one of the most exposed and vulnerable communities in terms of flooding but that her constituency had benefited from six flood alleviation schemes since 2007. She said any flood alleviation for Severn Stoke must be 'feasible' and not just 'doable'. She will also be holding meetings with landowners to hear their views and concerns.

Colonel Tim Weeks, who is campaigning for defences, said: "When it floods the church is denied to us and our village hall is denied to us and the land around us is denied to us and the A38 is denied to us. On top of that we have to put up with pongs and contamination because the sewers are denied to us."

He also branded the formula for calculating which areas were eligible for Government cash to protect homes "twisted".

Cllr David Harrison said: "What we have isn't fit for the 21st century. We don't want houses flooding all the time. We don't want the sewage getting into houses and gardens and causing this contamination. We are here today to try and move forward." Cllr Harrison, speaking directly to the audience, said: "Do you want flood defences for Severn Stoke?" Cries of "yes!" went up overwhelmingly. But there were calls directed at the two Environment Agency officials to "clean your river out!" Anthony Perry, flooding risk manager for the river Severn, said the river was not the Environment Agency's river. He added: "There is no way the taxpayer can afford to dredge every watercourse or even dredge the river Severn, no way in this world."

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