What MPs and council chiefs think needs to be done now

Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron

Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron

First published in News
Last updated

OXFORDSHIRE’S political leaders have pledged to work together in a bid to tackle flooding in the county.

It comes after the county faced further rain yesterday, putting at risk the good work done by firefighters and Environment Agency officials across the county.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith yesterday called for politicians to pull together to tackle the issue of flooding.

And today this message has been echoed by colleagues across the political divide.

Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron:

“Flooding has a devastating effect on people’s lives, I am seeing the effects on the ground for myself. We are facing extraordinary weather events and the Government is doing everything it can – the resources are there, the money is there but tragically these things take time to get right.

“I know that many farmers, businesses and residents in my constituency have faced a tough time and continue to face a tough time. We are coming forward with new solutions to help those affected.”

Andrew Smith, Oxford East MP:

The Oxford Times:

“Oxford faces a dire situation, with all the heartache and worry for those at risk of flooding, and the widespread disruption and economic cost to the city and surrounding area.

“I am keeping closely in touch with the efforts to protect local people, and praise the frontline effort being put in by all the agencies and councils. We will all be pulling together, across political parties and councils to mobilise the city’s case.”

Nicola Blackwood, Oxford West and Abingdon MP:

The Oxford Times:

“We are all grateful for the work the Environment Agency and emergency services have done to respond to the flooding, keeping key routes like the Botley Road open.

“But what we need now are long term solutions, strategic dredging and clearing of drainage routes and improvements to our inadequate drainage system. We must all continue to work together to turn political will into local flood defence solutions.”

Sir Tony Baldry, Banbury MP:

The Oxford Times:

“I am really proud of what Cherwell District Council and the communities have done in north Oxfordshire to protect Banbury from flooding.

“Banbury has not flooded which means there is no water coming down the River Cherwell and the Oxford Canal to threaten Kidlington and Oxford.

“This is the highest rainfall since the late 1700s. It is unprecedented, so thought is going to have to be given in the future in respect of the River Thames and some of the tributaries serving it.”

Ed Vaizey, Wantage MP:

The Oxford Times:

“While not yet as bad as 2007, the level of flooding in my constituency is of huge concern. I have to praise the emergency services, as well as the local councils, for responding quickly to problems and supplying sandbags.

“The leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, Matt Barber, has been working non-stop and providing me and many others with invaluable updates.”

John Howell, Henley MP:

The Oxford Times:

“I have had a meeting with the Environment Agency and discussed what they are doing and whether it is adequate. They are doing a good job, though there is an issue of whether the policy over the last 10 years has been the right one.

“Global warming must be a contributory factor.”

Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council:

The Oxford Times:

“I am delighted at the way in which the fire service and our engineering staff have worked together to find a solution for Botley Road and applied the same solution to Abingdon Road.

“I don’t think any council can tackle the issue on an individual basis because the river runs through so many different parts of the county.

“We have to see this as something which involves all representatives from all of the councils.”

Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council:

The Oxford Times:

“The flood summit we have organised is a key part of us working together.

“We have got to get over the floods and then it is important that we get all the information we can beforehand.

“We have invited as many people as possible, all the local MPs and some senior Government ministers and we will be working to get the best deal possible.”

Barry Norton, West Oxfordshire District Council:

The Oxford Times:

“From our perspective in West Oxfordshire, we have been lucky in that we are blessed with lots of flood meadows that take a lot of the water before it goes into roads or into houses.

“Since 2007 we have had a number of initiatives in place across the district which have stood us in good stead this time.

“We will be attending the flood summit and working to identify what we can do.”

Ann Ducker, South Oxfordshire District Council:

The Oxford Times:

“It is important that we work together to achieve the best for Oxfordshire.

“We will of course have differences, but we have to argue those out sensibly at the time the issue is raised. We are very fortunate in South Oxfordshire that we have not had much housing built on flood plains like some councils but we have to sit around a table and see how we can improve things.”

Matt Barber, Vale of White Horse District Council:

The Oxford Times:

“We have already had some quiet discussions with the Environment Agency about what can be done. The Western Conveyance seems to be gaining support and while we would have some concerns about its effect on Abingdon we are looking at what works could be done with it as a package.

“It will have some benefits for parts of the district and what we understand is, the effect on Abingdon will be small. Homes flooding is devastating but there is also the wider economic impact on the whole of the county and the whole of the region.

“When you close Botley Road and Abingdon Road it is not just people in those roads who are affected.”

Barry Wood: Cherwell District Council:

The Oxford Times:

“Working together is the obvious thing to do. Flooding is a priority for all of us.”

Comments (3)

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9:08am Thu 13 Feb 14

CupHalfFull says...

When will our politicians learn that improving the drainage system means worse flooding with quicker and higher floodpeaks downstream. We need to concentrate on allowing water to soak into the ground by planting more trees, and slowing down water courses.
When will our politicians learn that improving the drainage system means worse flooding with quicker and higher floodpeaks downstream. We need to concentrate on allowing water to soak into the ground by planting more trees, and slowing down water courses. CupHalfFull
  • Score: 1

10:07am Thu 13 Feb 14

Megs says...

Amply demonstrated as events have unfolded along the Thames from its source to London is how politicians ignore local people who have a driect knowledge of the risks to their area. As I write, I look over fields that have been flooded by the Ginge Brook (in the Vale of White Horse) bursting its banks. In 40 years I have only ever seen this happen once in this location - 3 weeks ago - although the area surrounding the brook has long been known as waterlogged & marshy. This is presumably why it has never been built on previously.
Yet, last summer, Vale councillors granted planning permission for 100 houses to be built on this area. Local residents objected, in an area with a record of flooded properties they were very worried. So, hard working families stumped up hard earned cash to commission an internationally renowned hydrographer to examine the site. Conclusions included that flood risk assessments for development on the site had serious flaws and that there was a future risk to flooding of local properties as a consequence.
By contrast the EA's contribution was that flood risk was perceived as low, but, they stated, they did not have the resources to carry out the research required and recommended that the developers did this.
As was asked, by an exhausted volunteer worker, of Minster Phil Hammond, at Wraysbury, "what will it take for you to listen to us, what do we need to do, what do we need to show you".
I would have thought an expert's conclusions would have been a good place to start. I don't expect councillors and politicians to be experts at everything - however, some of them are identified as "leaders". Leadership includes decision and action after taking advice - even if it only comes via the lowly local electorate rather than the under-resourced EA.
So, politicians, in the spirit of new political co-operation that is apparently abounding at the moment, if you really want to get it right, when you have your discussions do not forget to involve the people - they are the ones that have the wisdom - or is what you are saying here just the usual old flannel, to be dropped the minute the waters recede? .
Amply demonstrated as events have unfolded along the Thames from its source to London is how politicians ignore local people who have a driect knowledge of the risks to their area. As I write, I look over fields that have been flooded by the Ginge Brook (in the Vale of White Horse) bursting its banks. In 40 years I have only ever seen this happen once in this location - 3 weeks ago - although the area surrounding the brook has long been known as waterlogged & marshy. This is presumably why it has never been built on previously. Yet, last summer, Vale councillors granted planning permission for 100 houses to be built on this area. Local residents objected, in an area with a record of flooded properties they were very worried. So, hard working families stumped up hard earned cash to commission an internationally renowned hydrographer to examine the site. Conclusions included that flood risk assessments for development on the site had serious flaws and that there was a future risk to flooding of local properties as a consequence. By contrast the EA's contribution was that flood risk was perceived as low, but, they stated, they did not have the resources to carry out the research required and recommended that the developers did this. As was asked, by an exhausted volunteer worker, of Minster Phil Hammond, at Wraysbury, "what will it take for you to listen to us, what do we need to do, what do we need to show you". I would have thought an expert's conclusions would have been a good place to start. I don't expect councillors and politicians to be experts at everything - however, some of them are identified as "leaders". Leadership includes decision and action after taking advice - even if it only comes via the lowly local electorate rather than the under-resourced EA. So, politicians, in the spirit of new political co-operation that is apparently abounding at the moment, if you really want to get it right, when you have your discussions do not forget to involve the people - they are the ones that have the wisdom - or is what you are saying here just the usual old flannel, to be dropped the minute the waters recede? . Megs
  • Score: 3

11:39am Fri 14 Feb 14

CupHalfFull says...

You make interesting points Megs.
One could take the view "Caveat emptor" or how about trying to sue the council that gave planning permission, or in many cases the planning inspectorate that probably overruled the council's refusal to grant planning.
You make interesting points Megs. One could take the view "Caveat emptor" or how about trying to sue the council that gave planning permission, or in many cases the planning inspectorate that probably overruled the council's refusal to grant planning. CupHalfFull
  • Score: 0

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