Rosie Cooper’s Flooding Forum meeting is the start of progress on tackling flooding incidents in the future. It also highlighted the lack of control and co-ordination amongst agencies when it comes to responding to flooding.
On Friday 19 October 2012 West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper held her latest Flooding Forum meeting at New Church House in Ormskirk. Rosie called the meeting following the recent heavy rainfall and flooding which hit both homeowners and business. Representatives from Electricity North West, Environment Agency, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Lancashire Police, United Utilities and West Lancashire Borough Council attended the meeting. Sadly Lancashire County Council, as the lead flood authority, had withdrawn their officer’s attendance at the meeting the day before.
During the meeting the core areas discussed were the responses of the agencies to the most recent flooding incidents, what lessons could be learnt and how to improve and co-ordinate the available help. There was also a discussion about short and long-term solutions to better protect residents and businesses. Prior to the meeting Rosie had received a huge number of emails and letters from West Lancashire residents explaining their experiences.
Following the meeting, MP Rosie said:
“I want to thank each of the residents who contacted me with the stories of how they’ve been affected by the flooding and how the agencies responded. This gave us an excellent starting point for our discussions, as it is clear that agencies need to do better with their communication when it comes to tackling flooding. Residents didn’t always know where turn at this time of emergency, and when they did phone were told to phone another agency, given conflicting information or just told that there was no help available, if they managed to get through at all.
“West Lancashire Borough Council were clear that it does not supply sandbags and that it is the home owners responsibility to protect their property. The Environment Agency stressed the use of their warning system to allow councils and residents to prepare for serious weather conditions. United Utilities will clear any blockages but much of the problem comes from the system not being able to carry the huge increase in water. The Fire Service will respond if your life is in danger.
“Lancashire County Council is the lead flood authority and is responsible for collecting data and reviewing post –incident flooding. They do not have the powers to take overall responsibility to respond to flooding as it happens. This is split between a number of agencies depending on the cause of the flooding.
“Yet there is some help available. For example, United Utilities offer specialist air bricks for homes at risk, which stop the water entering homes. The Environment Agency can provide Resilience Measures to protect homes. This can cost up to £1000 but there are grants available that people can apply for through the local authority.
“It was acknowledged during the meeting that the patterns of rainfall are changing and it appears that the periods of heavy rain are getting more intense. This is leading to homes and land being flooded more often. For this reason it is essential that we are better equipped and better prepared when this happens again, which it very likely will.
“In one meeting we were never going to solve West Lancashire’s flooding problems once and for all. Through the Flooding Forum we have identified areas for improvement and I will continue to work with residents and agencies to ensure that we are more resilient against future flooding incidents.”
“There has to better co-ordination and communication about exactly what is the responsibility of each agency and the help they can provide.”