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Flooding Prevention Versus Finance – “The Winner is………….”

December 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

head_in_the_sandOn the 17th December Rochford District Council formally adopted the revised budgetary estimates for 2013/2014.

We noted that the provision of £10,000 for Sewers and Ditch clearance, which presumably if spent may have eliminated or prevented some of the flooding experienced by residents in August, has been reduced to NIL!  Only £595 was spent in the previous financial year which makes us wonder why the budget was hiked so high and then not used.

Yet when the rains came on the 24th August the advice given by the Leader of the Council on TV  was for residents to go out and buy sand bags.  In our view the money budgeted could have been either used as proposed, used for sand bags or not put into the budget at all.

Whilst we prefer that Riparian Owners keep the land adjoining watercourses that they are responsible for clear of debris and the watercourse free flowing we accept that many Riparian Owners do not have the financial or physical means to achieve this which is why, in Hawkwell West,  we arranged for the Community at large to assist affected residents last month.  As Ward Councillors John and I led this very successful and rewarding couple of days and not only achieved the aim of clearing vegetation and other debris but also helped forge Community bonds.

We are curious as to the future intentions of the Rochford District Council.

Has the Council removed this Budget item only to reinstate it later or will other District Councillors follow our example and help the residents in their Wards themselves by organising flood prevention work?

Read the answer from the Leader of Rochford District Council, Councillor Cutmore (also an Essex County Councillor where ECC does have responsibility for flood prevention).

Flood victims’ anger

Flood victims’ anger at council bigwigs

Echo Wednesday January 1, 2014

We sent a Report on Hawkwell West Flood Risk to the new Chief Executive, Amar Dave, on 8 December pointing out that work needed to be done on Council land adjoining Clements Hall Leisure Centre. This is in Flood Zone 3 and is upstream of the areas that flooded in August . On 17 December, the Council cancelled a £10,000 Budget which Councillor Cutmore states is for ““The budget for sewers and ditch clearance was specifically set aside for those on Rochford District Council land that we have responsibility for.” We are now asking if this work will be done or not?

Councillor Cutmore also told the Echo “As a local authority, we are also looking ahead to see what else we can do in the future to help residents in situations like this and we are currently working on an improved flood plan.”

But……………………

The Environment Agency says on its Web Site “Local authorities have powers to manage local flood risk only if they are lead local flood authorities under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. These include county councils and unitary authorities, but do not include district councils.

Update on Flood Prevention Work In The Vicinity of Rectory Road

December 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 DSCF0749Hawkwell Brook 8th December 2013

As organised by us the length of the Brook from Windsor Gardens to the end of the field adjoining Clements Hall was cleared by volunteers on the Weekend 30th Nov/1st Dec.  Thanks to everyone involved.  Certainly we were relieved that no further problems occurred on Friday when a similar flood warning was sounded.

Yesterday John and I walked along the Brook up to Thorpe Close and noted the work that needs to be done by the local land owners.  As these riparian owners are commercial organisations we have submitted a report to our new Chief Executive so that he can arrange for the appropriate work to be undertaken as appropriate.

Our main concern was the allegation from a  resident that David Wilson Homes/Barratts have been pumping water into the Brook and we have asked for this to be investigated.

The other concern was the silting up of the higher level of the Brook as this will be near to the new David Wilson Homes/Barratts Homes.

The amount of work needed to provide the same level of clearance that the volunteers achieved downstream is small and we are optimistic that this will be done soon so that the risk of flooding is reduced and peace of mind is achieved for local residents.

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David Wilson Homes “hopes” to reopen a temporary path through Thorpe Road by Christmas – Quote – Unquote

December 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

DSCF0417Reported in the Echo 6 December 2013

Update on our Article, Thorpe Road Closure with less than 24 hrs Notice

A FOOTPATH which was closed,leaving residents with a half-mile detour to reach village amenities looks set to be reopened by Christmas.

The path at the unmade end of Thorpe Road, Hockley, was shut unexpectedly in October, as part of a development for 175 homes in the village.

The closure meant residents had to walk half-a-mile along narrow pavements on Main Road or Rectory Road to reach shops, a doctor’s surgery and Greensward and Westerings schools. At the time, the move left residents angry at the lack of communication from developers David Wilson Homes, who had told residents the path wouldn’t be shut and access would be maintained at all times.

Now, after intervention from County Hall, the path looks set to reopen.

Following a meeting with developers,a spokesman for Essex County Council said: “The developer was understanding and supportive of the council’s desire to have access through Thorpe Road fully restored for pedestrians as soon as possible. “An alternative diversion within the site is being considered by the developer, which will direct pedestrians from the north of Thorpe Road, and to the east of the site to join with the southern part of Thorpe Road.”

“A spokeswoman for David Wilson Homes confirmed that it hoped to reopen a temporary path by Christmas.”

Comment from District Councillors John and Christine Mason

“Let us hope that the promise made by Barratts is fulfilled because this has caused problems for residents for over a month now and by Christmas  is another month”  

“Whilst welcoming the position negotiated by Essex County Council Officers this has only been achieved after protest by Councillors and Residents.” 

“Essex County Council should never have allowed the agreement that it would not be closed to pedestrians, agreed with District Councillors by ECC and Barratts, to be reneged upon in the first place.” 

Flood Warning !!

December 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

flood_alertEnvironment Agency Warning Page – Updates Regularly

Echo Feature Article on Hawkwell Flood Prevention

Echo Feature Article on Hawkwell DIY Flood Plan 

Just in the nick of time-page-001

“People Power” or How Residents Can Carry Out DIY Flood Prevention

December 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

2013-11-30 10.27.21_DCEHawkwell Brook Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December

As featured in the ECHO DIY Flood Plan

No one told us how physically hard flood prevention would be.  John and I ache in muscles that “we did not know that we had and probably have not got”!  (Christine was heard saying “Charlie Dimmock I am not.  (Certainly John is not!))  That said it is a lot cheaper and more rewarding than the gym.

Saturday dawned cold, bright and above all dry.  Nearly 40 people turned up over the course of the session, it was impossible to keep track of everyone but all set to with a will.  Father and Son, Mother and Daughter, Family and friends from age 8 to 80 every one did what they could and more.

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As someone said the camaraderie was fantastic and they got to know their neighbours better.  The community support has been staggering from Rochford Hundred Rugby Club members to school children, young and old, fit and less physically able, residents and ‘outsiders’ side by side.  Some residents who could not help provided tea, coffee and biscuits for the volunteers, one lady brought round a tray of cakes.  Everyone has contributed. As tired limbs were failing we were further encouraged by the Rochford Hundred Rugby Club members who came along after their commitments and finished of the stretch we were all working on.  A massive improvement but better was yet to come.  Sunday saw more members of the Rochford Hundred Rugby Club and their strength and abilities saw the task finished.    With the support of yet more tea and cakes!

 

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As a Community, Hawkwell West owes a great deal to these willing volunteers for their assistance with this project, but we can also congratulate ourselves.   Let us hope that those residents that were so adversely affected by the floods can now approach winter with a greater sense of peace and that this effort will achieve its aim of helping to prevent a repetition of the August floods.  Everyone has contributed.  Our Hawkwell West Community has proved that the spirit of community is alive and well.

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Thanks to Rochford District Council for the Gloves and Rubbish collection, DWH for the loan of two wheelbarrows and forks, Southend Hospital for the Hand Cleanser, Everyone who helped and…………………

Special Thanks to Rochford Hundred Rugby Club Members.

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Flooding – Rights and Responsibilities

October 5, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Discussing Water Rights.previewAfter the recent flooding and observing first-hand the distress and damage caused to affected individuals and the general confusion that was created I decided to look into the general situation with a particular regard to our own Ward.

Hawkwell West is criss-crossed with drainage ditches, brooks and streams.

Generally speaking the water will flow through the ground and enter these water courses slowly finally exiting into the sea via the River Roach. Very heavy rain may cause surface water, which should lead into these water courses and so out of harm’s way.

Hawkwell Flooding 2013

 Quite a few activities that we take for granted affect this

 Firstly older properties do not commonly have a separate surface water  drainage system so the surface, storm (rain) water is channelled into the main  sewers. In the recent rains a main sewer that crosses our property was up  about 10 feet in height, 1 inch from over-spilling.

Clearance of land for building or other purposes also speeds up the movement  of water as it is no longer inhibited or used by vegetation. Although all new  buildings now have to have a surface water drainage system and on large sites,  an overflow/retention arrangement put in place [SUDS tank or pond/lagoon] there is a risky interim time between the clearance of the land and the installation of surface water drainage that could potentially cause problems for the surrounding area. This is due to larger amounts of water than usual flowing to neighbouring areas and at much greater speed.

Lastly the tide; As all water courses tend to ultimately end up in the sea high tide inhibits the discharge.

So who is responsible for what? And do any rights compensate for this responsibility?

A watercourse is defined as any channel through which water flows and can be open or enclosed underground as a culvert.

Whilst the Environment Agency is responsible for main, or designated, rivers all other watercourses are the responsibility of the Riparian Owner……………

Not a term that we hear very often but one that I think we are going to become more aware of as weather variations continue to increase the risk of flooding.

A Riparian Owner owns the land adjoining a watercourse and the law presumes an ownership to the centre of the water course. The Riparian Owner is deemed to be responsible for the maintenance and water flow where the watercourse borders your land and in extreme circumstances could face legal action.

riparian

However you do have the right of access to the water and also generally the right to use it for irrigation for your own use as long as you do not dam or channel the water for this purpose and it is only extracted from below the normal water level. You also have the right to protect your property from flooding (it is not specified how!) and to prevent erosion of the watercourse banks!

 

Not a great trade off!

John and I are aware that many of the residents affected by this are elderly and are in the process of trying to arrange some community activity to assist some of them.
If you wish to read further these documents will clarify and expand the above information.

• The Public Health Act 1936
• The Land Drainage Acts of 1991 &1994
• Water Resources Act 1991
• National Rivers Authority (now the Environment Agency) Land Drainage Byelaws 1981
• Flooding and Water Management Act

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