Council hails progress in tackling flooding in Northamptonshire

An Environment Agency response team practising building flood barriers on the River Ise in Geddington in 2012
An Environment Agency response team practising building flood barriers on the River Ise in Geddington in 2012

A county council report which highlights the progress made in tackling flooding problems in Northamptonshire has been approved by the authority’s cabinet.

The updated action plan, presented at a meeting of the cabinet yesterday (Tuesday, October 7), said significant steps had been taken to understand and combat the problem in the county.

This has partly been achieved by an improved method of reporting flooding issues, the report said, and councillors have hailed the steps forward which have been taken to help tackle flooding issues in recent years.

Cllr Heather Smith, deputy leader of the Conservative-controlled authority, told the meeting: “I cannot believe where we were in 2010 and where we are now.”

Cllr John McGhee, Labour’s group leader and councillor for Kingswood – the area of Corby which includes the frequently flooded Gainsborough Road – joined other elected members in paying tribute to the work of council officer Josie Bateman.

But he added: “What I don’t want to happen is that after all the magnificent work in identifying the people responsible for the area that floods in Corby that we have to wait years before we can do the work that needs to be done.”

The report outlined action taken in the last 12 months, which has included the initiation of a county council scheme in the 15 Northamptonshire communities deemed to be at greatest risk of surface water flooding.

Those in the north of the county which are among the 15 include Brigstock, Geddington, Irchester, Ringstead, Thrapston, Titchmarsh, Warmington and Eaglethorpe, Weldon industrial estate and Wellingborough town centre.

Northamptonshire County Council has secured hundreds of thousands of pounds of Government funding for its “Pathfinder Project” for those areas, which will investigate which flood-prevention measures work better than others – and why.

Cllr Michael Clarke, the cabinet portfolio holder, said: “We were one of 13 successful local authorities bidding for and winning £300,000 from Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to establish these Pathfinder Projects.

“It’s essentially a ‘prevention is better than cure’ operation where we have identified 15 communities where the risks of surface water causing problems are greatest throughout the county.”

Cllr Clarke also suggested flooding problems since spring 2013 are not typical, adding: “It’s worth pointing out that over the last 15 to 18 months in Northamptonshire we have incurred one of the heaviest periods of rain and one of the wettest winters in living memory.”

Members of the public continue to be encouraged to let the authorities know of flooding problems by visiting the council’s Report Flooding page.

The council says that more than 2,000 flood-related hotspots have now been identified via that flood-reporting system and database.