Flood victim: 'Failure to invest in flood defences is a false economy'

Jeremy Chinn in his garden

Jeremy Chinn in his garden

First published in News by , Reporter

A MARLOW resident forced out of his home by last week’s floods believes the failure to invest in flood defences is "a false economy" as the town counts the cost of the deluge.

Jeremy Chinn and his family had to pack up and leave after water rose through the floorboards last week as firefighters began their mammoth round-the-clock pumping operation.

Mr Chinn, who lives in the cul-de-sac with his wife and three children, spoke to fire minister Brandon Lewis when he visited Garnet Court to survey the damage last week. They discussed the mooted £6million flood defences for Marlow, which Wycombe District Council leader Richard Council says needs only £1million to become a reality.

And the 43-year-old accountant claims it is a small price to pay to help protect the town when seen in terms of the cost incurred from the devastating floods, with the damage to his own home estimated to be tens og thosands of pounds.

He said: "I spoke to the fire minister about the flood defences, which were approved nearly four years ago and still haven’t been started.

"Not going ahead with the defences is a false economy, it will cost far more to clean up each time. £1million is a small price to pay compared to the damage that the floods will keep causing."

However, The Environment Agency disagrees with Cllr Scott's £1m funding gap estimate, claiming the project needs more than £3m before becoming viable.

MP Dominic Grieve said last week he intends to lobby goverment colleagues to try and drum up surrport for the scheme, which would see floodwalls, bunds and underground pumping wells.

Mr Chinn and his wife have been staying at the Crowne Plaza hotel during their search for a temporary home after the hotel offered reduced rate rooms for flood evacuees.

With his insurance company is still assessing the damage, he believes it could be as long as six months before he and his family can return home.

Over 50 properties are believed to have been affected by the widespread flooding that has threatened the town after the wettest January on record gave way to more persistent and rain over the last two weeks.

Residents were evacuated from homes on Pound Lane, Lock Road and Firview Close, and the Gossmore area was also badly hit.

The multi-agency flood-relief effort, which included a round-the-clock pumping operation by Bucks Fire and Rescue, continued this week as waters began to recede. As reported in last week’s MFP, Mr Chinn, who has been interviewed by both Sky News and the BBC, praised the firefighters’ work as "unbelievable".

He lauded the Garnet Court community spirit, which saw residents throw a barbeque for firefighters during their week-long pumping operation the last time floods hit.

And despite the upheaval, the stoical Marlovian said he has no intention of selling up and leaving the flood-hit street.

He said: "Regardless of all the problems, we wouldn’t dream of moving out. This is a really special place and community.

"What is most upsetting about all of this is having to leave here, even though it’s just temporary. All out friends are here and it’ll be difficult to go."

Comments (9)

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8:25am Sat 22 Feb 14

MunsterX says...

Couldn't beleive this piece from the article, as if the buyers are queuing up!:

"And despite the upheaval, the stoical Marlovian said he has no intention of selling up and leaving the flood-hit street."
Couldn't beleive this piece from the article, as if the buyers are queuing up!: "And despite the upheaval, the stoical Marlovian said he has no intention of selling up and leaving the flood-hit street." MunsterX
  • Score: -7

11:28am Sat 22 Feb 14

Mr Methane says...

I can't wait to see how estate agents would describe these properties
I can't wait to see how estate agents would describe these properties Mr Methane
  • Score: -6

11:58am Sat 22 Feb 14

s6blr says...

Look I'm sorry you and your family got flooded out, but you chose to live near the Thames and that's your choice. Why should we all pay for your lifestyle I keep wondering to the flooded riverfront folks along the Thames?

When the properties are advertised as "nearby to the Thames" (or any major river) my alarms go off because that to me means "hey this might flood if a historically high rain storm hit".
Look I'm sorry you and your family got flooded out, but you chose to live near the Thames and that's your choice. Why should we all pay for your lifestyle I keep wondering to the flooded riverfront folks along the Thames? When the properties are advertised as "nearby to the Thames" (or any major river) my alarms go off because that to me means "hey this might flood if a historically high rain storm hit". s6blr
  • Score: 9

12:08pm Sat 22 Feb 14

wood81 says...

I have the greatest sympathy for your plight but the fact is that the area where these houses was built was always flooded when I first knew it back in the 50s and 60s. The ground slopes downhill from the Henley Road and water goes to the lowest point. the fact is that the houses should ot have been built there. For that matter this applies to so many in low lying areas. The fault lies not with lack of flood protection measures but with the planners who allowed building in the first place.
I have the greatest sympathy for your plight but the fact is that the area where these houses was built was always flooded when I first knew it back in the 50s and 60s. The ground slopes downhill from the Henley Road and water goes to the lowest point. the fact is that the houses should ot have been built there. For that matter this applies to so many in low lying areas. The fault lies not with lack of flood protection measures but with the planners who allowed building in the first place. wood81
  • Score: 6

6:38pm Sat 22 Feb 14

gpn01 says...

I'm sure it's very distressing to have your home flooded and sympathise with anyone affected. Rather than spending £6 Million on flood defences, why don't house buyers instead purchase an Environmental Survey or Flood Risk Report? They typically cost around £20 - £40 and are an excellent investment for anyone buying a property or considering building one.
I'm sure it's very distressing to have your home flooded and sympathise with anyone affected. Rather than spending £6 Million on flood defences, why don't house buyers instead purchase an Environmental Survey or Flood Risk Report? They typically cost around £20 - £40 and are an excellent investment for anyone buying a property or considering building one. gpn01
  • Score: 5

7:28pm Sat 22 Feb 14

KrissieJS says...

Hear, hear! About time for some forward thinking....
Hear, hear! About time for some forward thinking.... KrissieJS
  • Score: 8

10:40pm Sat 22 Feb 14

Undercover Euro Yob says...

gpn01 wrote:
I'm sure it's very distressing to have your home flooded and sympathise with anyone affected. Rather than spending £6 Million on flood defences, why don't house buyers instead purchase an Environmental Survey or Flood Risk Report? They typically cost around £20 - £40 and are an excellent investment for anyone buying a property or considering building one.
I agree - I don’t wish to seem callous but surely an accountant (called Jeremy), living in Marlow, who is probably a Conservative as well, would understand better than average the need to cut public spending and end Marlovians’ crippling dependency on the benefits culture.


Surely Mr Chinn should have erected his own flood defences in a past summer using a private contractor, instead of spending his money down the betting shop, and on wide screen TV sets, lager, tobacco and junk food.
[quote][p][bold]gpn01[/bold] wrote: I'm sure it's very distressing to have your home flooded and sympathise with anyone affected. Rather than spending £6 Million on flood defences, why don't house buyers instead purchase an Environmental Survey or Flood Risk Report? They typically cost around £20 - £40 and are an excellent investment for anyone buying a property or considering building one.[/p][/quote]I agree - I don’t wish to seem callous but surely an accountant (called Jeremy), living in Marlow, who is probably a Conservative as well, would understand better than average the need to cut public spending and end Marlovians’ crippling dependency on the benefits culture. Surely Mr Chinn should have erected his own flood defences in a past summer using a private contractor, instead of spending his money down the betting shop, and on wide screen TV sets, lager, tobacco and junk food. Undercover Euro Yob
  • Score: 1

9:27am Sun 23 Feb 14

MunsterX says...

Good points UEY. An accountant should also understand that approval for flood defences does not mean funding too; many developments approved around Wycombe District every year never see the light of day.

The defences that were approved four years ago would have been overwhelmed by the recent deluge and therefore a waste of money. With flood levels likely to get higher in the future the cost of defending Marlow will run at many many tens of millions. We need to say goodbye to Marlow and those who lose out must write of their losses and start again. As a comparative exercise, if one of the many chalk hills in HW were undermined by acid rain, and a sinkhole of radius quarter of a mile appeared, then surviving homeowners would be given alternative accomodation and left to fight it out with insurers.

These natural events will become more frequent and local authorities and taxpayers cannot pick up the tab everytime, the original investment decision rests with the individual.

Maybe this could lead to a downgrading of property values to more realistic levels and a fairer society - floods on the plains and sinkholes in the hills are natures way of administering the required property correction. Those sitting in Naphill this morning in a 1500sqft detached home valued at £500k or in Hughenden Road in a flat worth £130k, need to get real and mark down those prices by two thirds.

The expression "caveat emptor" has been around for two thousand years. If you choose to beware and rent instead it could be a smart move. A more homogenous society for all.
Good points UEY. An accountant should also understand that approval for flood defences does not mean funding too; many developments approved around Wycombe District every year never see the light of day. The defences that were approved four years ago would have been overwhelmed by the recent deluge and therefore a waste of money. With flood levels likely to get higher in the future the cost of defending Marlow will run at many many tens of millions. We need to say goodbye to Marlow and those who lose out must write of their losses and start again. As a comparative exercise, if one of the many chalk hills in HW were undermined by acid rain, and a sinkhole of radius quarter of a mile appeared, then surviving homeowners would be given alternative accomodation and left to fight it out with insurers. These natural events will become more frequent and local authorities and taxpayers cannot pick up the tab everytime, the original investment decision rests with the individual. Maybe this could lead to a downgrading of property values to more realistic levels and a fairer society - floods on the plains and sinkholes in the hills are natures way of administering the required property correction. Those sitting in Naphill this morning in a 1500sqft detached home valued at £500k or in Hughenden Road in a flat worth £130k, need to get real and mark down those prices by two thirds. The expression "caveat emptor" has been around for two thousand years. If you choose to beware and rent instead it could be a smart move. A more homogenous society for all. MunsterX
  • Score: 0

11:57am Sun 23 Feb 14

Undercover Euro Yob says...

I agree with all you say particularly A more homogenous society for all.

Our society has been becoming more and more divided and unequal since the days of Margaret Thatcher - people who are many times more wealthy than they need to not worry about the important or the nice things in life, have to be ‘motivated’ by unearnably and unspendably huge sums of money while people at their wits end to get a job, or to pay bills, are called scroungers and benefit fiddlers.

I wish Mr Chinn good luck in a miserable situation but I just think it's strange how some public expenditure is a reasonable responsibility for government but other parts are the 'benefits culture'.
I agree with all you say particularly [italic] A more homogenous society for all. [/italic] Our society has been becoming more and more divided and unequal since the days of Margaret Thatcher - people who are many times more wealthy than they need to not worry about the important or the nice things in life, have to be ‘motivated’ by unearnably and unspendably huge sums of money while people at their wits end to get a job, or to pay bills, are called scroungers and benefit fiddlers. I wish Mr Chinn good luck in a miserable situation but I just think it's strange how some public expenditure is a reasonable responsibility for government but other parts are the 'benefits culture'. Undercover Euro Yob
  • Score: 3

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