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Newark and Sherwood District Council support Paul Taylor’s motion to create multi-authority approach to preventing flooding

The green light has been given for a council to pursue a multi-agency response to flooding which has left residents in a “state of fear”.

Paul Taylor presented a motion calling for the council to “bring together local authorities and other agencies with a responsibility for flood alleviation across the Trent Valley to explore ways of addressing the continued threat of flooding”, including creating a Trent Valley flood alleviation plan with an emphasis on natural methods of preventing flooding.

It attracted unanimous support from members during a full council meeting of Newark and Sherwood District Council, with many speaking of flooding faced by residents in their wards during recent severe weather caused by Storm Babet and Storm Henk.

Paul Taylor has spoken about the recent flooding in Newark and Sherwood.
Paul Taylor has spoken about the recent flooding in Newark and Sherwood.

Modification was made to the motion to include tributaries to the River Trent.

Mr Taylor said: “The people of Newark and Sherwood, many have been through hell as a result of the flooding… we all know it will happen again.

“People are still suffering, lets not pretend that because the water has gone down there isn’t still pain and suffering.

“There are lessons to be learnt, and we are learning these lessons. We need to work with our partners.”

Flooding around Newark. Credit: Rob Turner
Flooding around Newark. Credit: Rob Turner

He also thanked the volunteers, flood wardens and council staff who worked to support residents during the floods, a sentiment which was echoed by every councillor who spoke to the motion.

He added: “[The response] is going to cost a lot of money, we are going to have to ask the government for funding.”

The motion was seconded by Emma Oldham, who said: “We have all seen the mental toll this has taken on residents.

“We understand that with the impacts of climate change [flooding] is becoming more frequent and severe. We have to act together to protect residents, businesses and wildlife.”

She also highlighted the potential for green jobs and biodiversity which could come from construction of natural flood defences.

Roger Jackson, whose ward, particularly Lowdham, regularly experiences severe flooding, supported the motion and “the sentiment that goes with it”.

Flooding at The Wharf in Newark.
Flooding at The Wharf in Newark.

He highlighted his previous work, lobbying for schemes in both Lowdham and Southwell, where £28 million and £5.5million defences have been approved after many years.

He said: “All this work is done with a lot of money, and a lot of lobbying, and a lot of work with different agencies.

“We are now entering into a wetter period of weather. Some call it climate change, whether its natural or man-made, or as I believe, I think it is a mixture of both.

“But the fact is, we are having a lot more rain after a relatively dry period... and we have got to put plans in place to deal with it. There’s a lot of drainage infrastructure out there that’s been forgotten and neglected for many years, which needs to be brought back into use and better maintained.”

He explained the county council’s resources needed to be better used to allow for this, and also emphasised the importance of landowners being enforced to clear dykes and ditches that border their property — as they are years-old features to divert water away from homes and into flood plains — an issue he has raised in letters to MPs Mark Spencer and Robert Jenrick.

“Unfortunately now we have built many houses on our flood plains and flood meadows, and wonder why we get internal flooding,” he added.

Mr Jackson further suggested that flood risk assessments be mandatory of all planning applications, to determine how they will impact other areas even if not in a flood risk zone themselves.

Leader of the opposition Rhona Holloway supported the motion, but added that it was not just Trent Valley communities who had suffered from recent flooding, but also residents in her ward of Bilsthorpe.

Sconce and Devon Park is flooded along the banks of the River Devon.
Sconce and Devon Park is flooded along the banks of the River Devon.

Deputy leader Rowan Cozens added the motion was “very timely” and said the council was “leading the way” in getting authorities together to tackle flooding.

She spoke of her recent attendance at a conference, lobbying for government funding for internal drainage boards, of which the council is one of 29 calling for better support for council to pay the public bodies that manage water levels and work to prevent flooding.

“We’re doing the right thing and we’re moving in the right direction,” she added.

The importance of a joined-up approach was considered by Mike Pringle, who acknowledged that much of Nottinghamshire’s floodwater came from Derbyshire, and if Newark was to defend itself it could force more water onto Lincolnshire.

He said: “We need to be speaking to Derby, Notts and Lincoln to make sure [the water] gets to the sea without anyone else being affected. The one good thing we have in our favour is an election on May 2, because that will have an elected mayor which will be in control of two of those counties.

“As per anything, there’s a funding issue. I’m not sure where the money’s going to come from, I’m not sure what magic wand or money tree is going to be shaken but there will need to be funding available.”

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