Review of '˜crucial' flood alert system

A SENIOR York councillor has called for a review of the city's flood alert system, and is calling on residents to help shape the future of emergency warnings.

Members of a Mountain Rescue team paddle along Huntington Road in York, after the River Foss and Ouse burst their banks on Sunday December 27, 2015. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

The Foss Barrier was activated at Easter and localised flooding was reported after days of heavy rain and snow.

Deputy council leader and executive member for environment, Coun Andrew Waller, has launched a review into the city’s flood messaging system, which will assess whether it reached the right people and if residents understood what to do.

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He will use the information to report to the Environment Agency, who manage the warnings, and are currently implementing a £45m flood defence scheme, announced in the wake of the devastating Boxing Day floods in 2015, which affected 350 homes and 157 businesses in the city. Coun Waller has also demanded answers on how the scheme is progressing.

He said: “In all emergency scenarios, communications to residents is crucial. That is why I have called for a review of flood messaging in York, so that we can make absolutely sure that the right information is reaching the right people. Further to this, I have voiced residents concerns regarding the speed of delivery for the £45m of funding included in the current investment plan. It is vital that this funding is utilised by 2021, getting through all the stages of approval before then, so that flood defences can be put in place, where needed, to improve resilience.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson said it was “working hard” to improve flood protection in York.

She added: “Our free flood warnings also give residents vital time to prepare when flooding hits. We encourage anyone who lives in a flood risk area to sign up to receive them.”