Beef up defences or face more flooding

Evesham Journal: The floods which struck Worcestershire back in February The floods which struck Worcestershire back in February

A NEW report on flood defences says the Government must do more to beef them up - or risk repeats of freak weather battering places like Worcestershire.

The findings have been welcomed in the county, where the body representing shops says flooding has had a "devastating impact" in Worcester.

MPs have attacked the Government for failing to heed their calls for more funding to dredge rivers and watercourses ahead of last winter's floods.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report also says flood defences “must not” be neglected if homes, businesses and farmland are to be properly protected in the future.

Despite areas like Worcestershire doing well in recent years, the report suggests funding for flood defence maintenance is currently at a “bare minimum” level across the country.

Worcestershire's flooding back in February damaged 108 homes and 55 business, and led to the main Worcester Bridge being closed in an unprecedented move.

Adrian Field, who runs Worcester's Business Improvement District, which represents shops, said he "welcomes the findings".

He said at the start of February city centre footfall fell 18 per cent, but climbed back due to its campaign called #open4business.

"Unfortunately Worcester has fallen victim to serious flooding on numerous occasions in recent years and we have witnessed first-hand the devastating effect this can have on local businesses," he said.

"While it’s great a campaign like ours was able to help alleviate the loss of business for traders during the floods, any measures that can prevent such a devastating situation happening in the first place are welcome news for the city.

"We are delighted it's being recognised on a national scale by parliament."

Worcestershire County Council has spent £16 million on flooding alleviation since 2010 and says another £1.5 million is going towards it this year.

In West Worcestershire, which is particularly vulnerable, six new flood defences costing £9 million have been built over that period.

The area's MP Harriett Baldwin said she was willing to back any communities that wanted to campaign for more defences, such as Severn Stoke where a group has already set up.

She said she was meeting the Environment Agency this week to discuss help for Severn Stoke and is in regular contact with Tenbury Town Council to look for solutions there.

"We live in a part of the country that will always experience periodic flooding and it’s one of my top priorities for residents," she said.

"It is easy to forget flooding issues when the sun is shining but it remains an ever-present threat in Worcestershire and I'm pleased the Government is spending over £3 billion in this parliament to protect more and more homes."


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