I am writing this report in mid February and the country is being buffeted by storms and rain, I don’t think I have been busier as a Councillor; one of my Cabinet responsibilities is flooding, so I have been immersed in problems at Pagham with the Coastal erosion, Littlehampton West Bank and Arundel.
Homes at Pagham have been at risk of being washed away by the sea and I have attended a number of meetings in Pagham spoken with many residents who are justly worried about their homes.
Nick Herbert MP held a flood summit in January at Arundel’s town hall, amongst attendee’s were Michael Tu Mayor, West Sussex County Council (WSCC) Cabinet Members, officers, Arun officers, myself, Environment Agency (EA) Officers, Derek Waller and other affected local residents.
It was a positive meeting, the problems over Christmas were discussed which were mainly surface water, but also down to faulty flaps on the river wall which allowed water to rise up the very pipes that were supposed to take it away.
Future defences were discussed, the £10m required for these in the next twenty years and the £23M over the next 100 years. Readers of this column will be aware that I am keen for the community to take control of the situation by raising the Town Council precept (There share of the council tax) by £26 per household per year and raising £500k over 10 years.
This would put Arundel in the driving seat in raising money from WSCC, Arun, EA, Business, Network Rail, The Highways Agency etc etc, I am hoping there will be a debate in the town and that the Town Council can decide to proceed with proposals starting in March of 2015.
Also Arun via the Arundel Flood Risk Community group is paying for the Flood Forum to bring their road show to the Arundel farmers market (Date to be confirmed), The flood Forum have been in Littlehampton and show low cost devices like air brick covers, devices to seal toilets against sewerage overflow, door slats for flooding and waterproof doors.
I have been pushing for over a year the EA to dredge the rifes which cover the district, by building capacity this will help with flooding in general. We need to build up resilience at all levels to deal with situations which will could become more regular with climate change, by working together we can protect ourselves and our communities.