Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

19 NOV 2014

Steve Brine presses Ministers on 'pathfinder' plan in national flooding debate

MP Steve Brine led an important debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday 19th November as MPs discussed flooding and its impact on their constituents.

The Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP called the 'Winter Flooding Preparation' debate to highlight the positive response from local authorities earlier this year but also to explain the wider impact groundwater flooding can have on constituencies such as Winchester and to press Ministers on an innovative new funding idea he is putting forward.

He explained how 12,000 litres of water per second were racing towards City Mill at one point in February and how an idea from a retired army Major from Pakistani working at the Environment Agency led to the 'restriction' being placed in the River Itchen at Easton, which saved around 100 homes in the city centre from almost certain flooding.

Looking to the future, he said that the Environment Agency is working with Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council to implement contingency measures taken in last winter's flood as permanent defences in the most strategic locations in the city.

Speaking in the Commons he said: "The areas identified include Water Lane, where we are looking into the feasibility of a flood wall along the length of that road that will serve to protect the road and those properties from flooding in future, and north of Park Avenue. The Park Avenue works will manage the flood flows from entering the city and give direct benefits to properties in Park Avenue, to the Winchester School of Art... and to St Bede's primary school, by protecting flood walls. The partnership is aiming to deliver those improvements this financial year, which will be welcome news, especially for St Bede's school which had to be rebuilt and raised off the ground further after the floods of 2000."

Mr Brine reserved the majority of his comments however to the devastating impact groundwater flooding had in villages including Kings Worthy, Headbourne Worthy, Littleton and Hursley and outlined the wider socio-economic case which he said should be taken in account when deciding which areas will receive funding for flood mitigation measures.

The MP is working with leader of Hampshire County Council, Cllr Roy Perry, on the 'pathfinder' proposal which seeks to create a new £4m devolved funding pot through DEFRA to fund improvements in some of the worst hit places.

He added; "Better management of groundwater flood risk at local level, unconstrained by the current national funding methodology which only looks at the number of properties protected, would mean that the communities that I represent could remain open for the duration of the flood, enabling local economies and businesses to function. By integrating existing programmes with a devolved funding pot for new measures, benefits of scale could be realised by incorporating simple flood risk measures alongside other maintenance programmes such as highway drainage or even the resurfacing of a road.

"Kings Worthy is classic example where residents were sparred the horror of seeing their homes flooded in great numbers but the impact of road closures on daily life, and on local businesses such as the King Charles Pub and Good Life, was significant. Because the national funding formula would never deem one or two homes flooded enough to warrant major investment, this is exactly the kind of community pathfinder seeks to help and why I am pushing it so hard."

DEFRA officials are currently engaged in active discussions with County officers about Pathfinder and Mr Brine has introduced the idea to Chancellor George Osborne as he prepares his Autumn Statement to be delivered in early December.

The debate also discussed the Repair and Renewal Grant which Steve Brine successfully lobbied to get reformed earlier this year.

 

More information ...

READ the debate in full via Hansard

WATCH Steve speaking in the debate (Parliament TV)

Visit Steve's dedicated flooding pages

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