FOR the second winter in succession Oxfordshire has been badly affected by flooding. The major flood in 2007 was billed as a one-off, a level of flooding that would occur once in a lifetime.

Yet here we are seven years later with several instances of severe flooding having come and gone, the last of which was the closest we’ve come to that never to be forgotten flood of summer 2007.

We believe the time has now come from local people and organisations in Oxfordshire to join together, speak with one voice, act where we can, and encourage central Government and other national bodies to act with us.

To that end, on March 21 there will be a special flooding summit in Oxfordshire.

Before then, on March 1, we will be speaking in detail with county councillors, parish, town and district councils at a special event to gather their collective views so that we can then feed those into an Oxfordshire Flooding Summit on March 21.

The main aim of our March 21 event is to have the key people in the same room, at the same time to talk through the issues and create a collective will locally to move things forward.

If the instances of flooding are to happen more regularly we can’t just wait for central Government and the Environment Agency to come up with the cash for flood alleviation schemes. If we took that course of action, we could be waiting for decades.

The Government and the Environment Agency need to be able to articulate where they stand with flood related schemes in Oxfordshire, including the Western Conveyance channel that would divert flood water from the Thames floodplain away from south and west Oxford.

The Local Enterprise Partnership needs to be able to speak for local businesses who have been so badly affected by the flooding, to give vent to their feelings as well as to understand how financial contributions from them could more quickly deliver solutions such as the Western Conveyance channel.

Oxford Mail:

  • Fire and Rescue specialists escort Cllr Rodney Rose and station manager Simon Bletcher through the floods at Bablockhythe

Representatives of the railways such as Network Rail and First Great Western will be there alongside utility companies to have their say and understand how they might be able to work side by side with local people and businesses to help continually raise the profile of Oxfordshire’s flooding issues and the potential solutions.

We all hope that some time later in the winter and during the spring there will be a big high pressure sitting over Oxfordshire bringing a much needed dry spell so that river levels can drop.

Those dropping river levels would usually mean the general issue of flooding would slip further to the back of the minds of local people and organisations, while never quite going away.

What we want to do is make sure this issue is permanently close to the top of everybody’s agenda 12 months a year – whether you work in the public sector or the private sector and whether you live in Oxford or elsewhere in Oxfordshire.

We want to be able to create a situation in which we speak with one voice as a county and for that voice to resonate through the corridors of power at Whitehall and in other Government agencies until action is taken.

We want to say to Government as a county that we’re willing to contribute, we want to work with you to accelerate the work that needs to be done to stop our homes, our businesses and our roads flooding – and we aren’t going to let the subject drop until you acknowledge our issues and begin the necessary work.