Sharma holds Pangbourne public meeting on flooding

On Tuesday 2nd April 2013, Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, together with local councillors, the Environment Agency and West Berkshire Council officers held a public meeting for residents in Pangbourne on flooding. This was the second public meeting on flooding following a successful meeting held in Purley during March.

The meeting was held at Pangbourne Village Hall and was attended by over 100 people. The Environment Agency and West Berkshire Council both provided residents with updates on the work that had been done in Pangbourne and in the surrounding areas to help prevent flooding.

Some of the work that has been done by the Environment Agency and West Berkshire Council on the River Pang included lowering the river bed under the main bridge at Reading Road and by the sewage plant, clearing out adjoining ditches, re-profiling the river to prevent it from silting up and the removal of redundant concrete weirs.

The Environment Agency and West Berkshire Council have also completed work to improve flow on the Sulham Brook and drainage channels. Works also now protect Pangbourne Primary School and adjacent housing estate on Briars Close, and the Environment Agency is consulting with land owners to identify improvements that can be made in the Tidmarsh area.

During the meeting, residents also had an opportunity to ask questions about any concerns they had relating to flooding. Some of the issues that were raised included questions about insurance, how often the rivers were maintained, how the responsibilities for flooding were divided between West Berkshire Council and the Environment Agency and concerns about the consistently high level of the River Pang.

Following the meeting the Environment Agency agreed to write to Alok on a number of points raised by residents including: whether Sulham Brook is classified as a main river, whether improvements at Pangbourne are included on the flood map referred to by insurers, information about obtaining insurance, the Environment Agency’s maintenance schedule, what maintenance can be carried out by property owners, an explanation of why the Environment Agency does not dredge the river, data on river levels and flows and contact details for the External Relations team at the Environment Agency. Alok Sharma has agreed to write to residents with this information.

Alok Sharma said: “The meeting was extremely well attended and I have received a lot of positive feedback from residents about how useful this meeting was to get answers to their concerns from the Environment Agency.”

Alok continued: “One of the biggest concerns for residents is about getting affordable insurance so I have agreed to help organise a follow up meeting for residents to hear from specialist insurance providers. My grateful thanks to everyone who attended the meeting and a really big thank you to the Parish Council and the local flood warden who do such a great job when the local area does suffer from flooding.”

District Councillor Pamela Bale said: “I would like to thank Alok for organising the meeting and the Environment Agency for their contribution. The mitigation measures carried out by the Environment Agency and West Berkshire Council have proved effective in preventing flooding in the last few months. The vigilance of the Parish Council, flood warden and residents has helped to ensure that any issues which could cause flooding, such as blockages in the watercourse have been reported and dealt with. The community and the statutory organisations are working together to manage flood prevention in the village.”

Martin Bryan, West Thames Area Operations Manager at the Environment Agency said: “The meeting with local residents, Alok, West Berkshire Council and the Parish Councillors was a good opportunity to discuss the works undertaken since 2003 to reduce the risk of flooding to Pangbourne. Looking to the future we know there is still work to be done in the area and will continue to engage with the flood wardens and local community to assess and maintain the watercourses as a high priority. We will continue to look for improvements that can be made to further reduce the risk of flooding.”

Photo: Alok Sharma chairs the public meeting in Pangbourne. Other panellists are: District Councillor Pamela Bale; Carolyn Richardson and Stuart Clark from West Berkshire Council; Brian Roberts (Flood Risk Management Berkshire), Julia Simpson (West Thames Area Manager) and Martin Bryan (Area Operations Manager) from the Environment Agency