Joe Cooke writes on the subject of the disastrous surface water flooding on Canvey Island

Here follows a letter by my successor Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Castle Point, Joe Cooke. It is on the subject of the disastrous surface water flooding on Canvey Island.

The public in the packed gallery for the 26th Aug. special scrutiny meeting about the recent flooding on Canvey and parts of the mainland were in an angry and distressed mood as they listened to Officers and Councillors.

They heard that the preventative work was split between multiple agencies and in many cases, was inadequate or simply not done.

The Chief Executive David Marchant stated that Castle Point had no-one employed to check whether the various agencies were doing what they should.

Armed with advice from the Shadow Communities Minister, I wrote to Mr Marchant eight days earlier with a list of five questions, some of which have now been answered by the Head of Environment. Trudy Bragg says that following the Pitt Review in 2007, the subsequent Flood and Water Management Act of 2010 created the role of Lead Local Flood Authorities. In Essex, this is the County Council and our local enforcement powers for dealing with obstructed water courses have been transferred to them. They are also the Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) Approval Body, meant to ensure responsible planning approvals. County has the co-ordinating role and arranges meetings of the Essex Flood Partnership which includes all the flood risk management agencies in Essex, to “ensure a joined up approach”.

The overwhelming impression in the public gallery was that there was much buck passing, talk and meetings but not enough decisive action. I asked why Castle Point applied the punitive empty properties Council Tax to residents in disaster distress when this was originally designed to free up vacant properties. It seems that current policy is that this should be covered by insurance but I hope they can be persuaded to have a rethink.

Given the County Council’s record of “First do most harm” as with the Deanes School issue, street lighting, potholes, youth services cuts and elderly care etc, we will need to hold them to account in South Essex more than we did after the previous floods!

Joe Cooke

Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate – Castle Point
141 Moreland Avenue
Thundersley, Benfleet, Essex SS7 4JJ U.K.
Home: +44 (0)1268 757816
Mob: +44 (0)7778 220002
E-mail joepcooke@mac.com

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