To the EFRAC Committee and Innes Thomson, from Tess Reddington
“I write in support of Gavin Rattray’s communication. I was Burscough Parish Council Clerk from 2012 to December 2017 and I was responsible for recommending the setting up of an independent group to investigate flooding issues and to create an evidence based account.
“In the years before the group was formed, occasionally, councillors and members of the public would make comments like “I don’t understand why the council are allowing building on here because it always floods”. Or “x always floods in heavy rain and we end up with sewage coming up”. Those sorts of comments related to various parts of Burscough, and sometimes they were from farmers, who understood the land and the drainage systems well, or from residents whose own homes were affected. When I looked deeper I could see no significant official record of flooding and therefore no reason to restrict development or to seek investment in infrastructure. The official records and the anecdotal evidence didn’t match, and that caused me concern.
“The more I looked and asked questions, the stranger it seemed. Two occasions in particular come to mind: Firstly, I was passed a WLBC commissioned report dated 2010 that provided an account of Burscough’s drainage issues which seemed to concur with the anecdotal evidence. It was passed to me by someone who had just joined his department. He said he had found it on a shelf, and I doubt he knew it was not in the public domain. This report was not referred to in the 2012 local plan and I couldn’t find any reference to it anywhere.
“I never got to the bottom of why it had not been presented as evidence, and who was aware of its existence; and secondly, I discovered that the S19 report of 2012 hardly mentioned flooding in Burscough when yet again, anecdotally, flooding had occurred in a number of properties and certainly, in my view, would have deserved recording.
“Subsequently, I reported to the Parish Council that I couldn’t make any further progress; that it appeared there was a difference between what the lead flood authority held to be the correct account, and what we understood to be the case locally, but at that time, I didn’t have a body of evidence, collected in the right way with which to argue my case. The job of gathering evidence was significant and something that I didn’t have either the time or the expertise to complete. I thought at that time that if we could gather good evidence, the various statutory bodies involved would welcome it and would act on it.
“So the Burscough Flood Group was formed with a very positive feeling that here was a problem that could be solved, that we could all work together, and that community action would be welcomed in that it would likely provide evidence that could be used to lever in investment and action by UU and others, and that it may help to limit development in areas at high risk of flooding.
“If I can be of further assistance, I shall be pleased to contribute. Tess Reddington”.