30 April 2024
Public flood meetings held by Cotswolds MP provide progress updates on local action

The most recent six-monthly meetings organised by Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP for the Cotswolds took place on Friday 26 in Cirencester and Moreton-in-Marsh. The public meetings have been arranged by the MP for well over a decade and are a great opportunity for members of the public to ask questions to representatives of Gloucestershire County Council as the Local Lead Flood Authority, Cotswold District Council, Gloucestershire Highways, Thames Water, and the Environment Agency.

The public meetings are also a useful format for the agencies to receive feedback and take information from the meetings to help inform their decision-making process while encouraging collaboration from all the various stakeholders. Bringing together all the relevant agencies in this way, at the same time also means it is more difficult for blame to be shifted.

Both the meetings on Friday were well attended which shows the continuing importance of the meetings to constituents and at the end of each meeting it was agreed that the meetings are useful and do help to deliver results for concerned residents who want to know what action is or isn’t being taken to prevent future flood risks.

England has faced the wettest 18 months since records began in 1836, which has made alleviation work difficult. With climate change creating more extreme wet conditions, flooding will only become an ever more important issue. It is therefore essential that there is appropriate alleviation measures and adequate planning for the future to avoid flooding.

One action since the last meeting was to set up two new working groups for Moreton-in-Marsh and Fairford but also covering Kempsford given their common interest in the River Coln. There has also been progress since the last meetings in terms of natural flood management schemes in Moreton, Bledington, and Daglingworth.

One concern that is regularly raised at these flood meetings is the effect of new developments, especially a concern in Moreton and Cirencester. The Government announced that it intended to implementation of Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 which means that all new developments will be required to implement sustainable drainage schemes. This means that new developments will have to have properly designed drainage systems to separate fresh surface water from foul and combined sewers. This should help reduce flooding, but equally important it keeps freshwater out of the sewers which then means they are much less likely to discharge sewage into our precious Cotswold limestone rivers and streams. However, a definitive timetable has not yet been brought forward so Sir Geoffrey has been lobbying the Government for several years to implement this and he will continue to put pressure on the Government wherever possible in Parliament.

Several actions were agreed upon at the meetings and localised flooding concerns raised by attendees have put people in touch with the relevant authorities to help resolve drainage and other flooding-related issues.

Another key concern that was raised was the closure of the Kingsmeadow roundabout in Cirencester and the ongoing groundwater issues in the area. The closure is causing considerable disruption for many constituents and the section has been shut for over a month. Sir Geoffrey will be writing to Gloucestershire Highways to ask for an update and to highlight to them the importance of communicating this to residents.

Sir Geoffrey will also be holding a separate river pollution meeting on 17th May which any constituent is welcome to attend and has a similar format to the flood meetings.

Commenting on the meetings, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP said:

“The fact that there was unanimous demand from members of the public that they wanted these meetings to continue twice yearly, rather than yearly, demonstrates that they do achieve positive results in reducing flooding in a range of towns and villages. Concerning Cirencester, we were informed by Thames Water that there is a £22 million upgrade to the sewage works, expected to be completed this year. This will not only cope with the new Chesterton Development, but it will also provide additional capacity for the rest of the town and should reduce flooding.

“The flooding of the highway and the Tesco Kingsmeadow Roundabout was discussed, as it has been partially closed for far too long. I will contact Highways separately about this to try and find a solution and rapid re-opening of the roundabout.

“The new National Flood Forum charity is doing an excellent job of bringing everyone together and resolving problems. Thames Water has submitted an upgrade of the Sewage Treatment Works for the new investment period 2024/25, which if approved by OFWAT will cost several million pounds. The extra capacity this will provide will reduce storm overflows into the River Evenlode and help with the sewage settlement around Primrose Court. In relation to Bledington which suffered bad flooding in the past the new flood alleviation scheme is in the advanced stages of planning and will hopefully be completed this year and should provide protection in the future for several homes from flooding.”