Sharma holds Purley public meeting on flooding

Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, together with local councillors and the Environment Agency, and West Berkshire Council officers held a public meeting on Thursday 7 March 2013 on flooding in Purley.

The meeting was held at the Barn in Purley and was attended by over 80 people.
During the meeting local residents raised a number of issues regarding flooding in Purley including what more could be done to protect their homes, work being done by the Environment Agency to mitigate against flooding and the implications of flooding on insurance premiums.

The Environment Agency said that it was highly unlikely that it would be able to secure funding for a large-scale long term solution in Purley. However a number of other options for works were discussed including the possibility of undertaking works to fill in low points on a bund to the north of Wintringham Way. This option is currently under review with the aim to carry out works during 2013.

The Environment Agency also agreed as part of a review to look at property level protection measures, such as providing flood barriers for individual properties at risk from flooding.

Following the meeting, the Environment Agency also agreed to write to Alok detailing all of the action points being taken in relation to Purley and the timescale for each of the works being implemented, along with an overview of the river and groundwater flooding issues affecting Purley and sources of further help and advice. Alok Sharma agreed to distribute this letter to residents, together with a questionnaire allowing residents to outline their flooding concerns.

To keep residents updated, Alok Sharma suggested that the Environment Agency should send out a newsletter to residents on a quarterly basis with details of ongoing, completed and future works.

Following a question raised by a resident about buses not stopping in Purley during floods, West Berkshire Council confirmed that they have discussions ongoing with Reading Buses about safe alternative routes, which would still stop in Lower Purley during times of flooding.

In January the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC) announced that it would invest £10.5m in levy funding during 2013/14 in local flood defence schemes across London and the Thames Valley, which is a £500,000 increase on the funding from the previous year.

Alok Sharma said: “The feedback I have received from local residents after the meeting suggests that they found it useful but of course what they want is for the Environment Agency to deliver in 2013 on some of the incremental flood mitigation measures discussed during the meeting. I look forward to receiving the Agency’s letter summarising the mitigation measures it is exploring for Purley with a timetable for potential implementation and will share this with all local residents and, as promised, I will also circulate a questionnaire to Purley households to get their further views on flood alleviation which is a big issue for local people.”

Alok continued: “One of the frustrations residents have had in the past is the lack of information about the local work the Environment Agency is doing and so it is good news that at my suggestion the Agency will start to circulate a regular newsletter. My grateful thanks to everyone who attended the meeting and a really big thank you to our Purley flood wardens who do such a great job when the local area does suffer from flooding.”

Ian Tomes, West Thames West Thames Flood and Coastal Risk Manager at the Environment Agency said: “It was good to be able to meet with local residents, Alok and West Berkshire Council to discuss flood risk in Purley and highlight some of the work we will be doing in the coming months. We will look to immediately reduce the flood risk in the area and investigate further options such as individual property protection to lessen the impact of flooding."

District Councillor Tim Metcalfe said: “Residents of the riverside estate in Purley feel that very little has been done by the Environment Agency to protect them from the constant threat of flooding. The promises received at this meeting, if kept, will go a long way to restoring confidence.”

District Councillor David Betts said: “I have been seeking action to reduce flooding in Purley since 2003. Thanks to Alok Sharma MP it looks as if we are going to get some action at last.”

Photo: Alok Sharma chairs public meeting in Purley. Other panellists are: Carolyn Richardson and Jon Winstanley from West Berkshire Council, Rick Jones Chairman of Purley Parish Council, Barry Russell Area Operations Manager at the Environment Agency, Julia Simpson, West Thames Area Manager at the Environment Agency and Ian Tomes, Flood & Coastal Risk Management Manager at the Environment Agency