Posted by: westlancashirerecord | July 10, 2016

Rosie Cooper MP On Flooding

Like other residents of West Lancashire I was invited to the Rosie Cooper inspired Flooding Forum because I have expressed concern about the increasing flooding events that we face in the Borough. It’s a sign of our times that when the heavens open up and flood us in our homes we look with horror at the damage, we read about it in the local press, we see pictures of local councillors on the scene, and days later it’s forgotten except by people dealing with the aftermath of disgusting sewage in their homes.

Flooded out residents see and hear that Rosie Cooper started campaigning publicly because West Lancashire homeowners and food producing landowners have been hit by severe flooding in recent years causing significant and costly damage to properties and crops. In response to the floods in 2012 Rosie held flooding forum meetings with agencies and residents to help find ways to improve protection from flooding for homes and land.

At the Borough Council’s meeting on 18 December 2013 it was decided the Borough Council would not provide funding for the internal drainage board. Rosie was asked to support this position but refused to do so “as a stalemate and failure to find a solution will only store up trouble for the future”.

A couple of years ago she invited a Water Minister, Dan Rogerson MPRC_with_farmers, at the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Wednesday 15 July 2014 to push for progress on a solution for Alt-Crossens drainage management to avoid further flooding in the future. Representatives from across West Lancashire, Sefton and South Ribble attended the meeting with Members of Parliament, Environment Agency, United Utilities, National Farmers Union, Country Land and Business Association, West Lancashire Borough Council and Lancashire County Council.

In Parliament Rosie said that “No single agency currently has overall authority or responsibility for responding to flooding incidents. Confusingly it is split between a number of different public agencies. The cause of the flooding determines which agency responds but this often leaves residents with no clear idea and guessing who to contact. Lancashire County Council is called the lead flood authority but this is for collecting data and reviewing post-incident flooding. I believe residents will be better served by having one agency in charge and can take control of a situation. In 2012 residents were calling one agency and were turned away being told that agency was not responsible. Residents should know who to turn to in their time of need. Flooding poses an ever greater threat to homeowners and landowners and we need to get better at protecting them from flooding and responding better when flooding occurs”.

Rosie has written to West Lancashire Borough Council, Environment Agency, United Utilities and Lancashire County Council to raise residents’ concerns that the current Yew Tree Farm Master Plan doesn’t sufficiently deal with the sewer, drainage and water management issues. Previously MP Rosie has highlighted concerns, which included a site meeting in February 2012 on existing flooding problems in Burscough and the need for future investment to upgrade the existing facilities. She has a “flood group” rosiefloodgroup who might be more vocal?

More recently Rosie has welcomed the introduction of the Flood Re Flood_Re_logo insurance scheme and is urging West Lancashire residents to shop around for the best insurance policy. Launched on 4 April 2016, Flood Re is a national scheme that designed to help provide better access to affordable home insurance for those who live in areas of high flood risk. Rosie is encouraging local residents to visit the Flood Re website at http://www.floodre.co.uk to find a list of participating insurers, especially those residents who have previously been affected by flooding and may have found it difficult to get home insurance policies in the past”.

At the most recent Flooding Forum I met friends I have campaigned with over recent years and one of them copied me about his response to queries why he was at the Flooding Forum. He explained he was invited to a Flooding Forum Chaired by MP Rosie Cooper out of the blue. He had in the past always tried to attend the flooding events she runs. He’d once been turned down and was also wary of having to listen to the story of the pumps again when he did attend, so he didn’t try to get in anymore. On this occasion Rosie’s office phoned him and were slightly insistent that he DID turn up by invitation.

He took a fellow resident of Burscough with him for his surface water knowledge in hopes of “letting him have go at the EA and LCC if the chance came up” and he did! He also told Cynthia Dereli “who never gets an invite and she snook in at the back”.

Those on the “panel” who dictate the policies that leave us flooded included, from UU Paul Foster, two representatives from the EA, one from LCC emergency planning, and WLBC Planning councillor John Hodson. Also there to take praise from 40ish members of the public were emergency responders, particularly the Fire and Rescue Service.

Rosie Cooper began by saying that she was disenchanted with “reactive flooding groups” because the problems weren’t being resolved, and she was fed up with flood proofing grants because the same houses were still getting flooded after the money had been spent on them. She now “really wanted the agencies to work together to resolve the problems and not accept flooding at the current rate of every few years” or even weeks!.

She spoke about YTF RC_Yew_Tree_Farm and said that she had spoken to the Housing Minister who said that if a planning application such as YTF [with its flooding problems] was approved then he would call it in! She “urged me to write to her and it would then go to the minister”.

He then explained the flooding problems with Burscough’s sewers and its downstream watercourses, by using the same arguments that he is currently using in his emails to the Borough Solicitor Terry Broderick. “No one argued in dissent and UU were conciliatory and taking notes” which means nothing by reference to their track record.

He later got the chance to speak again and spoke to UU and WLBC again and said the sewer flooding wasn’t all UU’s fault because “I’d seen their emails to WLBC planners in which they’d made it extremely clear, time and again that they shouldn’t be building in area with flooding problems like Burscough has”. At which point John Hodson who had been trying to defend WLBC, pretty much gave up but didn’t offer any solution (when in hindsight I should have asked for one)”.

To witness the other Burscough resident have an argument with the EA because they said that their funding was cut but had forgotten to mention (again apparently) that their funding from other sources was increasing, was something to behold. Picture a determined no nonsense flood victim chasing this government agency who “came across as shifty because of the funding sleight of hand and they also expected us to believe that they didn’t know how much the Crossens pumps cost to run”.

The LCC man gave us all some bullshit about flooding being inevitable as demonstrated by his cups of water. “As punishment he was given a difficult question to answer on the maladministration of the drainage network in Parbold” by Rosie and asked to have answers to that next time. This particular short episode was very much enjoyed by all. So what advice can we give to those who want to attend Rosie Cooper’s Flooding Forums? Simple, send an email to Rosie@RosieCooper.net and ask to be added to the list for invitation. It might mean the next meeting, I think in November, will be held in a theatre rather than a committee room but that’s democracy for you!


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