07/08/07 – Agencies opt out of flood meetings
First printed in the Swindon Advertiser, 7th August 2007.
THREE councillors have hit out at Thames Water and the Environment Agency for refusing to talk to residents.
The flooding in July has made about 100 houses in Covingham and Nythe inhabitable for several months while repair work is carried out.
Ward councillors Glenn Smith, Dale Heenan and Phil Young (all Con) requested that Thames Water and the Environment Agency attend a public meeting in the ward to explain to the residents why it happened and what action they would be taking.
However, both organisations have refused to attend such a meeting.
At the special scrutiny committee meeting on Wednesday, August 29, Coun Smith raised this point with both organisations, who again confirmed they would not be prepared to attend.
He said: “I am disgusted that they are not prepared to talk to residents face-to-face.
“Covingham was one of the worst affected areas in the town and residents quite rightly want to know why it happened.
“At the scrutiny meeting the Environment Agency said that whenever there is heavy rain they always send staff to the flood defences in Covingham to clear the debris and when the flooding happened they had a team at the site for most of the day doing this.
“This clearly sounds to me that there is a design issue there.”
Coun Young said: “Thames Water and the Environment Agency are the experts. They should be explaining directly to the residents what happened and the actions they plan to take.
“We feel that holding a public meeting will allow as many people as possible to hear first hand this information and ask questions.”
Coun Heenan said: “We are concerned over the River Cole’s capacity and the dam effect of the A419 and Wanborough Road on the two waterways the Environment Agency maintains in the ward.”
Thames Water spokeswoman Rebecca Johnson said: “The flooding experienced in several parts of England on July 20 was the worst experienced for 60 years and in Thames Water’s area, the most severe in the history of the company.
“Thames Water is now working as closely as possible with Swindon Council and the Environment Agency to resolve local flooding issues.
“Thames Water representatives attended a public scrutiny committee meeting in Swindon on August 29, giving local residents the opportunity to express their concerns.
“We have written to all the customers who reported sewer flooding so that we can collect information as quickly as possible and establish the extent and frequency of each flooding.
“All incidents will be added to our sewer flooding database which is our primary source of information used to assess potential flood alleviation schemes and future investment.
“We are investing