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Time has come for multi-million pound flood defences says council chief
THE LEADER of Wycombe District Council believes now is the time to push forward with the multi-million pound plans to help avoid flooding in Marlow and the surrounding area.
Cllr Richard Scott, who was in Marlow to meet government minister Brandon Laws yesterday morning, said the recent flooding is proof that something needs to be done quickly to avoid future disasters.
A £6.3million flood alleviation scheme from the Environment Agency was approved by WDC in 2010, but funding for the ambitious project has proved more difficult.
But Cllr Scott, who praised the work of firefighters in Marlow, insists the scheme only needs £1.25million extra to go ahead and now hopes the government can stump up the remaining cash.
He said: “It’s the worst I’ve seen it in 40 years. We’ve got around 50 properties affected across the district and the firefighters are doing a remarkable job, they’re fantastic.
“In the short term we’re doing everything we can we’re getting extra sandbags in but in the longer term we want to get this scheme that’s been proposed in place.
“There’s planning permission for it and it’s all agreed but mow we just need to get funding for it. It needs an extra £1.25million to get the funding in place and I’ll leave that thought with the minister.
“We’re not the only place in the country with problem, but this scheme has been proposed for six years. This has reinvigorated that plan. It should be done, and this is an example of what can happen if you don’t do it.”
WDC is currently sourcing extra sandbags, which Cllr Scott said will be given to the residents most in need.
The council intends to part fund the scheme, and Cllr Scott is currently in discussion with Bucks County Council, who would also contribute.
BCC leader Martin Tett also met with Mr Lewis along with cabinet members at County Hall in Aylesbury.
They discussed how authorities can work to improve relationships, particularly with the Environment Agency.
Cabinet members also lobbied the minister over the need for major government investment in restoring Britain's roads after three exceptionally severe winters.
Cllr Tett said: “'It was great to see Brandon in Buckinghamshire. He's an impressive Minister, clearly with a good grasp of the key issues, and willing to engage with the County Council in improving life for our residents.”
The Marlow plans include constructing flood walls, bunds, and groundwater pumping wells at Pound Lane, Lower Pound Lane, Gossmore Lane and Firview Close.
Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, was in Marlow yesterday to assess the flood damage and meet fire crews.
The Conservative MP, whose ministerial duties include the fire service, said he will talk to representatives at the Department for Rural Affairs and Agriculture about funding for the project.
He told the BFP: “As a team we’ll have to have a look at it. I will feed that through to the Environment Agency and DEFRA.
“It’s not my department, but I will speak to them. I know the county are quite keen to see that delivered upon, but I haven’t seen the scheme in detail yet to see how it fits in.
“At the moment, the key thing is to try and make sure the team have got the space and what they need to protect the properties here. “
Last year, The Environment Agency confirmed the project was on hold as Marlow was deemed a “low priority” compared to other stretches of the Thames and therefore did not qualify for specific government funding.