Petition calls for better flood defences across Bedford Borough

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Carlton High Street (Bridgend), Christmas Floods 2020
Carlton was amongst the North Bedfordshire villages flooded over the 2020 Christmas weekend. Image: Clare Mullarky

A petition calling for improved flood defences in Bedford Borough was presented at a full Borough Council meeting last week (13 January).

Conservative Cllr Jim Weir (Great Denham), who started the petition, said: “We believe it’s right to thank officers for all their hard work to date, but also to note that keeping flooding at bay is an ongoing issue and we as a council can’t rest on our laurels.”

The petition starts by thanking volunteers and staff who helped during the Christmas 2020 flood but then calls for a review into flood defences along the River Great Ouse.

‘We the undersigned… ask the council to lead a review into what went well in relation to the flood preparation and management during the Christmas 2020 floods and what more needs to be done to prevent future flooding,’ says the petition.

It also adds that the Environment Agency must be held to account on how they use Bedford taxpayer’s money for flood defences and that community groups must be consulted so local knowledge and best practice in managing floods can be used.

“A number of villages such as Turvey, Harrold and Oakley were badly affected by flooding over Christmas 2020,” said Cllr Weir.

“The day after this petition was submitted to Full Council a number of villages experienced flooding again from the river, surface water run off and local brooks, which has led to water coming into people’s homes and certain roads being flooded again. This just shows what a serious matter this is.”

Lib Dem Councillor for Oakley, Jon Abbott, also called for the council to take steps to help prevent future flooding.

“It is vital that any lessons that can be learnt from this incident are used to ensure we are doing all we can in terms of both flood prevention and preparation for future incidents,” he said.

In response, Bedford Borough Council has said it will be producing a flood investigation report in partnership with other agencies.

“The Council has already met with the Environment Agency and partnership work is ongoing as part of the process,” said an update on the Mayor’s website.

If you would like to sign the petition, you can do so at: change.org.

You can also make further comments to be presented at the next full council meeting on 3 February by emailing group researcher Stephen Vallance at Stephen.vallance@bedford.gov.uk.

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