Readers may recall the WLR report on 17th December 2019 about the Burscough Flood Warning
Gavin Rattray, above, the Secretary Burscough Flooding Group, has now obtained what can only be a grudging reply from LCC who “…feel the loss of even one member of staff acutely…”! You might regard it as a capitulation of the LCC stance on its use of the mushroom method of communication and disclosure!
It reads “Thank you for contacting me regarding the draft report and I apologise that it has taken a few days to respond. As I explained earlier, the team feel the loss of even one member of staff acutely and with existing diary commitments etc it will not always be possible for me to respond immediately.
“I apologise if there has been a miscommunication or misunderstanding about procedural matters. This is in no way trying to hide information or be dishonest, these types of reports always go through an iterative process, such as this. It is perfectly normal to revise the first draft due to typographical errors or to refine the language used to ensure the report can be widely understood beyond those who are closest to it. These reports are technical and it is important that they retain the technical aspects whilst managing to explain those complexities in a more inclusive way.
“(1) For those reasons we don’t share the report beyond the professional partners (RMAs) until we are satisfied that the report is of a finished professional standard, this is part of our contractual obligation with the consultant. (2) We also share the early draft with the relevant RMAs to comply with the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 (section 13). (3) As UU have shared confidential information to inform the report then they need to check that the data has been accurately interpreted and shared in a way that meets their professional standard requirements. We would expect those partners to do the same if they were to undertake such a study or any other flood risk management function. It is therefore inappropriate to share a first draft version with the BFG.
“You have expressed concerns regarding the report being influenced by political bias, vested or financial interests. (4) The report will be, without doubt, unaffected by political bias, vested or financial interests. This is an independent technical report compiled by a consultancy. (4) The report is compiled in accordance with best practice and DEFRA Surface Water Management Plan guidance. (5) As a consultancy, Jacobs are bound to act in a professional manner and with integrity. All optioneering and economic appraisal aspects will follow the ‘Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management – A Manual for Economic Appraisal (referred to generally as the Multi-Coloured Manual)
“Having explained the above, I wish to reiterate that we absolutely value the BFG’s input and we are very grateful for the time and information you have provided. (5) We have every intention of sharing the final draft with the group, prior to signing the report off as complete. That opportunity will allow for feedback from the BFG. We will also offer to arrange a presentation of the report findings by Jacobs to the group. If the group would appreciate this please let me know and I will work with you and Jacobs to find a suitable date.
“Kind regards. Dianne Taylor. Principal Flood Risk Officer. Highways and Transport. Lancashire County Council”.
We will publish the BFG response to the above correspondence in Part 2.