A RALLYING cry has been issued this week for Marlow residents to back a campaign to push for a long-awaited flood defence scheme for the town.
Two daughters of an elderly couple forced out of their Pound Lane home in February's floods when water poured in have launched a petition calling for the remaining funds to be made available for the multi-million pound project.
The £8.5million Enviroment Agency scheme for earth bunds and underground pumping stations to protect nearly 200 properties received planning permission in 2010.
The project has been on ice ever since due to a funding gap of as much as £3million.
But after the devastating floods earlier this year which affected over 50 properties in Marlow and many more in outlying villages, MP Dominic Grieve has pledged his support to finding the missing funds.
Wendy McEvoy and Sandra Jeffs, whose parents Jan and Ron McEvoy moved into flood-hit Pound Lane eight years ago, have launched the ‘Fight the Floods’ petition to demonstrate public support for the project.
They have had support from neighbours, including residents of Garnet Court who battled alongside firefighters to keep the water at bay during several pumping efforts over the last few months.
And after meeting with Marlow MP Dominic Grieve to discuss the plans, the determined pair say action must be taken fast before the planning permission expires next year.
Mrs Jeffs said: "We felt as family members that Marlow really pulled together nicely when the emergency services and army where here and it was all very visible.
"But now the floods have gone away, the people who were actually flooded are still suffering, but nobody knows because you can’t actually see it.
"It’s about trying to make people aware that for people who do need help, all we’re asking for is your signature to back this.
"It’s not just week you’re flooded, it’s a long term thing. A lot of them are elderly like our parents and our parents have lived in Marlow all their life and they really need the town to pull together."
Mr and Mrs McEvoy are still unable to return to their home after floodwater caused tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to their home less than a year after they moved in.
Ms McEvoy described the devastation which destroyed the ground floor of her parents' property and gutted whole swathes of their home.
She said: "It’s been terrible. The psychological effect has been worrying, to the point where you wonder if they’re going to get over it. When they moved in they were told it may flood once in 100 years.
"It’s been devastating for them, there’s no other word for it. And the anxiety of moving back and the threat of it happening again are massive.
"Because the plans are there for the defences, and some of the money’s there, as far as we and my mum and dad are concerned, it’s a no-brainer."
The Environment Agency’s Flood Alleviation Scheme would protect an estimated 187 homes in Marlow, but would not extend to villages surrounding the town which were also badly affected.
The plans include constructing flood walls, bunds, and groundwater pumping wells at Pound Lane, Lower Pound Lane, Gossmore Lane and Firview Close.
After February’s floods, Wycombe District Council leader Richard Scott, who represents Marlow, made a fresh call for the missing funding to be found.
At the time, Dominic Grieve told the MFP he would do everything he could to find the missing funding, which Cllr Scott estimated at around £1million.
Mr Grieve, though unavailable for comment at time of going to press, has requested a briefing from the Environment Agency about the current situation and funding deficit.
Cllr Scott, in his role as county councillor for Marlow, told the MFP this week: "I did contact Dominic Grieve MP just before Easter to follow up on his promise to talk to the appropriate Government department about seeking additional funding to complete the amount required for the flood prevention work around Marlow.
"To date I have not had a response, so will follow up with him now that the Parliamentary Easter recess is almost over."
Mr Grieve's parliamentary office has confirmed that the Marlow MP wrote to the secretary of state on the scheme this week and is in the process of dealing with the matter.
However, the Environment Agency has sounded a less optimistic tone on the required amount to make the scheme a reality, putting the figure at more like £3million.
EA spokesman Ash Dobson said: "The Environment Agency has developed plans for a proposed flood alleviation scheme to protect parts of Marlow from flooding from both the River Thames and groundwater to 287 properties.
"Our current estimates show that the total scheme would cost £8.54million, of which around £2.96million would be met by government funding.
"Before it can progress, the Marlow scheme will need a contribution of £5.58million from partners and other organisations, with a further £3million still to be sourced. The Environment Agency is working with them to coordinate their support."
The ‘Fight the Floods’ petition is available to sign at Burgers the Bakers on the High Street and Beehive Treats on Spittal Street.
A Facebook page has also been set up under the Fight the Floods name, which contains a link to an e-petition which also available for to sign.