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SALFORD FLOOD MEETING FAILS TO IMPRESS RESIDENTS
 

Star date: 23rd September 2016

SIRENS AND ACTION PLANS BUT LITTLE PROGRESS

At another stormy community meeting of Lower Broughton residents last night, flood victims heard of action plans, evacuation packs and river modelling that are all going to be put in place. But, nine months on from the Boxing Day flood, they were unimpressed by the complete lack of progress so far.

Meanwhile, Salford Council appears to be on collision course with the Environment Agency over a basic siren for the area which the Agency stated it won't pay for, maintain or manage.

Full details here...


Lower Broughton Community Flood Meeting Lower Broughton Community Flood Meeting Lower Broughton Community Flood Meeting
Lower Broughton Community Flood Meeting Lower Broughton Community Flood Meeting
click image to enlarge

Nine months after the Boxing Day flood that hit Lower Broughton, residents are still angry about the lack of progress in resolving issues which led to cock ups and chaos when the River Irwell engulfed defences after Christmas.

It was only last week when the Salford City Council report** was finally issued, cataloguing the lack of emergency planning, resources and communication, and at a stormy community meeting last night at River View Primary School, officers from the Environment Agency (EA), Urban Vision and Salford City Council attempted to placate residents, to little effect.

Roger Baldry, who retired from the Irwell Valley Sustainable Communities recently and was present on the day, summed up residents' frustrations when he criticised the delay in releasing the report and acting upon its 21 recommendations...

"If we'd had that report as far back as April we wouldn't be in the situation where we are now, nine months on" he said "...People have had two alerts since then and are frightened because they don't know what additional elements of protection they are going to get, what advice they are going to get, what things they can do in the event of another flood. We've got winter approaching. What we want to know is what we're going to do in the event of an alert..."

His sentiments were echoed by resident Keri Muldoon, who slated the lack of education about flood warnings and alerts from the Environment Agency and Salford Council... "As soon as we get a flood alert everyone starts flapping" she said "You both need your heads smacking together!"

As Matt Ryan, from Urban Vision, and David Hunter, from Salford Council, attempted to go through the Council report via a projected slideshow, they were constantly heckled. And constantly apologised, together with Environment Agency officers, for the lack of action on Boxing Day...

"I stood and watched that flood basin fill but didn't take any other action apart from making sure the flood basin was secure" said David Hunter who is Salford Council's Chief Officer for Contingencies and was, kind of, in charge on the day, and is still in charge "...We didn't have an evacuation plan for flooding... I made the decision to take everyone to this school, and that was stupid because it got flooded half an hour afterwards..."

The Environment Agency officer addressed the lack of flood warnings to the community... "We missed it, we shouldn't have missed it, we're very sorry we missed it" she said.

Meanwhile, an action plan of what will happen in the future was shown. But, as Roger Baldry stated, everything announced was about what is going to be done, not what has already been done...

"We're working with water companies to see whether we can come to some agreement to reduce levels in reservoirs higher up to store water" explained the Environment Agency officer...

"We're trying to get a response from United Utilities" said Matt Ryan of Urban Vision, after a resident criticised the state of the drains...

"We're looking at raising the footbridges which held debris" said the Council's David Hunter "It's not going to take place overnight...We're going to review the use of sandbagging..."

"Should we have temporary barriers? Should the wall actually be raised on a permanent basis?" asked the Council's Head of Planning, Chris Findley "All these things need to be properly assessed...I would refute that the Council hasn't actually done anything. All sorts of things need to be done..."

Even a siren for a flood warning is still being `explored', with a huge row breaking out between Salford Council and the Environment Agency over who is going to pay for it...

"The Environment Agency no longer installs siren systems, however we are very happy to work with the Council and community if they want one...but in terms of an Environment Agency owned, maintained and operated system, we're not in a position to do that" said the officer, who added later "The reason is that if we have one in Salford, why not everywhere else? Then we have a secondary flood warning system that frankly we can't resource."

Broughton Councillor John Merry responded, telling residents that the City Mayor will be "writing to the Environment Agency to urge support for a siren in the area because I think you've made it very clear tonight that that's what you want – a system that warns you over and above the Environment Agency computer."

Residents were perplexed that even a basic siren couldn't be sorted out... "All we want is a siren, or someone to blow a whistle or something to get everyone out" resident Chris shouted "We didn't get any warning at all..."

Meanwhile, the Council's David Hunter ploughed on with his five `R'-points slideshow of actions...Resistance; Resilience; Readiness; Response and Recovery.
These were basically covered in the recommendations within the Council's report...

...That the second flood basin off Littleton Road is ready but not signed off...that one list of vulnerable people will be available...that everyone in the affected areas will receive flood awareness brochures and evacuation packs of what to do, where to go, what to take and when to go...

"We've got to ensure we've got a proper evacuation plan in place to get people out of those places before it happens" he said.

Councillor Merry pledged that "In December the Mayor will write to every resident in the flood area with details of what's been achieved in terms of the action plan, what's still to be achieved and the barriers to it."

And the Council's David Hunter added "We're already on with the plan. We've obviously been waiting for the reports to come out but we've already started to do some work on it. I'm not saying we're ready but we're getting there..."

Many residents the Salford Star spoke to didn't believe this was good enough, nine months after the flood... "It's another load of bollocks", said one woman at the end of the meeting.


*Other issues raised were the state of the flood doors that have been installed in some of the houses; the lack of insurance cover available and how businesses were left to fend for themselves.

**For full details of the Salford City Council Flood report see previous Salford Star article – click here

There's also links on this article to the Council Flood report itself and previous articles on the Government and Greater Manchester flood reports.

Photos by Steven Speed

wrote
at 17:25:40 on 26 September 2016
Change the record Felse, no one trusts you, no one will vote for you for GM Mayor, maybe put yourself up for clown of the year and you will win hands down. You really do spout absolute garbage, things that are so off the planet I really do think you are seriously deranged. You just encourage anger and hatred when actually a lot of issues can be solved by collectively talking.
 
Michael James Felse wrote
at 13:15:21 on 26 September 2016
Wrote is correct in saying the Council could have done more. It is why we need a legal aid fund to sue Councillors who cause harm either by collective or individual responsibility. With £2.5million in the Sue Fund a Greater Manchester Mayor can ensure all local people have authority over the Councillors rather than having the career Councillors continue sitting pretty smug. To those caused damage you deserve to have new powers that seriously cause your local Council to better protect local residents. Felse.
 
wrote
at 10:40:15 on 26 September 2016
The floods were horrendous and I went to help as many people as I could as I was one of the lucky ones, the water only came to the top of the river bank next to my house but didn't break it. I'm sure the government and ALL councils could do more and I think they are now better informed but Felses blaming of Labour and local councillors is just tripe, he's a UKIPer so expect him to blame the gays for it being gods punishment as a few of them have already!
 
RayofSunshine wrote
at 09:19:32 on 26 September 2016
Michael,as I asked in a previous post, what concrete evidence do you have that Salford Councillors are responsible for the January Floods? Please justify your accusations, if you can! You no longer support Labour because you are now a vile far right extremist!
 
Michael James Felse wrote
at 20:51:11 on 23 September 2016
As our elected council fail to accept responsibility it drives me to believe they will fail on everything except in taking home their expenses. I supported Labour for 40 years, but the today version is driving local people into the gutter. We cannot afford Labour.
 
Alan wrote
at 13:52:06 on 23 September 2016
Other issues discussed at the meeting… were the possibility of pouring disinfectants into the river so our homes will smell much nicer the next time there's a flood. There was also an idea raised, for the private homes built on higher ground, which surround the flooded estate to be given earplugs so that the planned flood sirens don't impede on them. Residents, it was argued, were given sufficient time on Boxing Day to take action – with all that Christmas pud from the day before, tenants needed a rush of blood to get those calories off them. The authorities weren't to blame though for lack of warnings. Surely… when residents’ feet began getting wet, those new Christmas slippers ruined while watching Boxing Day Eastenders, and the crashing of your Christmas tree toppling over by the rush of flood water... what other sort of warning can there be? The last question asked was by a resident of the new builds, at the meting to complain because her cat “Tiddles” had got its paws wet on Boxing Day. They also requested that the council put fairy lights in each grid, so that the fountain effect of river water gushing from them look pretty.
 
Water performance wrote
at 13:51:47 on 23 September 2016
How about when the river starts to rise, you tie these clowns to a water level marker in the river. When you cannot hear them any more, you know the water level is getting high.
 
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