Three Isle of Wight Councillors are working together with key agencies to ensure that everything possible is done to address the problems that led to severe flooding of houses in Caesars Road, Wilver Road, Carisbrooke High Street and Castle Street in Newport on the night of Christmas Eve 2013.
Cllr Julie Jones-Evans (Newport Central), Cllr John Hobart (Carisbrooke) and Cllr Chris Whitehouse (Newport West) spent all day Friday (2nd October) travelling the length of Lukely Brook, the cause of much of the flooding, with representatives of The Environment Agency, Southern Water and the Isle of Wight Council.
During the walk around Newport the councillors spoke to residents such as Andrew Cocks (pictured left), whose home was flooded and as a result he lost his business.
Cllr John Hobart explained:
“The principal cause of the flooding at Christmas 2013 was the massive amount of rain that fell in a few hours. But the problems were exacerbated by blockages at various points in the brook, causing it to burst its banks and flood homes.
“We explored the whole route of the brook along with key officers to ensure that every possible problem was identified and, where possible, addressed. We had a very constructive dialogue and made very real progress.”
The Councillors, assisted by expert local residents, pointed out to the agency officers places where pipes under bridges and culverts could be exacerbating problems by reducing water flow; places where banks were strewn with rubbish that could be washed into the brook and block sluices and trash screens; and areas where pond construction might help spread the water over more ground so as to avoid rapid rises in water levels in the brook. There were also areas where agricultural activity might be looked at, and better maintenance of river banks, fences, trees and other vegetation could help.
The Environment Agency have already installed three CCTV cameras on key trash screens so that water levels can be monitored remotely and the councillors were told of the plans for the rebuilding of the Westminster Grill are firmly in the business plan of the EA and daily clearing of key trash screens is in place, with emergency teams on standby should extreme rainfall again be predicted.
Cllr Jones-Evans says:
“Christmas 2013 was a nightmare for the residents of Caesar’s Road, half of which is in my ward and the other half in Cllr Whitehouse’s. We never want them to have to live through an experience like that again.
“Even today, local residents were telling us, they are paying the price. In some cases families were flooded out of their homes. Some who worked from home have lost their businesses.
“We are determined as a team of Newport Members of the Isle of Wight Council to work together and with every relevant agency to see these problems addressed and the threats reduced.”
“As well as having a whole new replacement trash screen for the Westminster Mill section of the brook, which should reduce the chances of blockages in future, a wide-raging study has been commissioned by the Environment Agency from key experts at the consultancy firm Capita. This will seek to identify a wide range of possible measures to reduce the problems along the full length of the brook, from its source to the point where it enters the Medina River. A cost benefit analysis will then be undertaken to see where we can identify funding for such measures.”
Speaking today, the Cllr Whitehouse added: “We cannot stop the rainfall, but we can press every agency involved to do all that they can to avoid problems and to mitigate them where they cannot be avoided. We hope to have further site visits as progress is made. Once we see the report from Capita we’ll be working with the Island MP, Andrew Turner, who shares our concerns, to use every possible influence on Government to secure funding for key works.”
Cllr Hobart added:
“As the rainy season approaches it’s timely to remind riparian owners along the Lukely Brook that they do have responsibility to keep their stretch of the river clear of any debris. They may find it useful to refer to the pamphlet that was delivered, from the Newport Rivers Group, in the spring containing useful telephone numbers and information. As much as we look to the Environment Agency for their support it is wise for us all to be pro-active to prevent flooding issues”.
Featured photograph: Cllr Jones-Evans (2nd left), Cllr Whitehouse (centre) and Cllr Hobart (far right) with officers from the Environment Agency and Southern Water