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Flooding surgery held in Braunton sparks calls for change

PUBLISHED: 14:44 04 January 2013

Residents visited the flooding surgery to speak to experts from different agencies.

Residents visited the flooding surgery to speak to experts from different agencies.

Archant

Braunton residents affected by the flooding were able to attend the surgery in Braunton to discuss what had happened with a number of agencies.

GREATER organisation, less development on flood plains and more sandbags were some of the issues raised at a flooding surgery in Braunton yesterday (Thurs).

The Environment Agency and Devon County Council organised the event along with other agencies to establish what happened when the River Caen broke its banks last month.

Homes and businesses were submerged under several feet of water when the flood defences failed to hold the sheer torrent of water caused by torrential downpours.

Councillor Caroline Chugg, who is a county and parish councillor for Braunton, said the flood defences needed improving.

“They were overwhelmed and obviously not built to withstand what was thrown at them,” she said.

“If we hadn’t had them the flooding would have been much worse, but that is no consolation to the poor people that were flooded again and again, and something must be done.”

Tony Leney, of the Environment Agency, said it would be looking to work with communities such as Braunton to develop a strategy for further flooding.

He said: “We will look to have a meeting with the parish council to see if we can develop a strategy which we can then put out to the public.

“That way we can be better organised from within the village, as often places like Braunton are cut off when they flood and difficult to reach with resources.”

This was a problem illustrated by Inspector Roger Bartlett, the police incident commander in the village on the day, who said the emergency services had been overwhelmed by requests for sandbags.

“We had to prioritise who we gave sandbags to due to the limited resources, as the village was essentially cut off and it was difficult to get the resources to the scene,” he said.

“We couldn’t give them to people who reported water creeping up to their houses, we had to focus on those affected by faster flowing areas of water.

“We now need to look at what we can do to better organise ourselves and utilise the good will as there were many people offering help in and outside of the village, so if people want to help we can tell them where they are needed.”

At the meeting was Charlie Piper, who campaigned against building on the Batt’s Farm meadow site, now Station Road, in Braunton in 2000.

Mr Piper said: “They should not be building on flood plains; if they hadn’t built those houses it would have alleviated some of the flooding.

“I used to work at Score Farm in Braunton and most years it flooded; now in more recent years it is flooding again where they built the houses.

“But yet developers still keep building on flood plains; this is only going to make the problem worse.”

A further meeting is being held in Bishops Tawton today (Friday), and agencies will then collate the information gathered on the days.

A report is expected to be produced in six-to-eight week’s time highlighting any changes and improvements that need to be made.

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