Rose bidding for all cash in flood talks

Oxford and the county was flooded last week

County council deputy leader Rodney Rose

Flooding hits Oxford’s Abingdon Road on November 27

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter. Please call me on (01865) 425411

OXFORDSHIRE County Council has revealed a list of the multi-million-pound schemes it wants to tackle flooding.

After the county’s worst flooding in five years, deputy leader Rodney Rose has warned that without serious investment many residents remain at risk during heavy downpours.

On Monday Mr Rose is to hold crunch talks with flood bosses in the hope of securing millions in defence money to fast-track several urgent projecs.

Local authorities will be able to bid from a £120million Government pot for flood defence schemes, for stalled projects that are in the pipeline but do not have secured funding.

The Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee controls the purse strings for flooding work across the region.

Mr Rose will meet its chairman on Monday to lobby him Oxfordshire needs financial support following repeated flooding problems.

He said: “We will bid for all of it; for as much of the £120 million as we can get. The group prioritise how it is spent but I will be meeting with the chairman to look at areas of urgent need that we could fast-track.

“Our hands are tied to an extent when it comes to this. We can’t do anything at the moment because it would need to meet with their approval.”

The key local schemes have either come from the Environment Agency or other local authorities, and range from smaller scale £1million works to longer-term £100 million plus projects.

The priority list includes the £2.5 million Northway and Marston Flood Alleviation Scheme which Oxford City Council consulted on earlier this year.

Consultation looked at the potential sources, extent and depth of flooding in the area, and the risk to the community.

If funding is secured it would allow the scheme to progress to the design stage.

Also on the list is a £1.3 million scheme for Oxford, which would include alterations to surface levels on areas near Botley Road to redirect floodwater westward. And in Islip up to £5 million would be dedicated to repairing weir defences, along with an £8.1 million project to restore large wooden paddle and rhymer weirs in west Oxfordshire. If approved, the majority of schemes could be completed within ten years.

Mr Rose is concerned that as the committee will also see funding bids from other regions, including London, he will have to fight the county’s corner.

To convince them, he will highlight the problems faced by residents in Abingdon Road last week, which suffered in the worst Oxfordshire floods since 2007.

Mr Rose said: “I think we coped well and did a good job. We did everything we could have done.”

“In terms of what we could have done better, teaching residents to fill their own sandbags is definitely something.

“It gives an extra few hours of protection. We can still get out to places but by educating residents to prepare better that extra few hours where they put their own defences up could be crucial in terms of saving a house from being flooded.”

Mr Rose also warned district planning committees on other Oxfordshire authorities they were putting thousands of homes at risk by concreting over floodplain land.

From midday today we will be publishing online a list of staff from the Environment Agency, councils and emergency services who worked during the floods last week.

Go to ow.ly/fQPJK

And our picture gallery of the floods is also still online at ow.ly/fQQ0h

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