Training for councillors to put focus on tackling floods threat

Councillors are to be trained in how to tackle flooding emergencies on the Yorkshire Coast as part of a renewed campaign to defend local communities by coming up with DIY schemes rather than continue to throw millions at national defences.

Since 2000, highways, gardens and public open spaces have been swamped on an annual basis in Filey, putting many properties at risk.

The resort also suffered devastating floods after torrential rain overloaded the sewage system, causing filth to bubble up through the drains into streets and homes. Severe flooding in 2002 and 2007 affected over 200 properties causing respectively an estimated 3m and 6.4m damage.

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In Scarborough, Burniston, Cloughton, Eastfield, Church Becks in Scalby, and the Newby areas all have a history of flooding problems – with widespread swamping in 2003 – and have been waiting years for a decision on cash to defend properties.

Yet traditionally, while Scarborough Council was in the front-line of responding to the areas, the emergency planning portfolio has always rested with Northallerton-based North Yorkshire County Council.

But a new report on flooding by Scarborough Council has underlined a much more local approach is needed to tackling flooding hotspots.

John Riby, head of technical services, said there was no specific flood training available to members of the authority although this was available from the county council's emergency planning unit.

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He added: "The borough council is however, planning to run a training event specifically about flooding for borough council members in the New Year."

The update on how Scarborough Council is helping lead the way in defending North Yorkshire against the effects of climate change is also stressing the need to come up with local solutions.

The report says many schemes are already in hand for tackling problems in Filey, Robin Hood's Bay, Whitby, and – in Scarborough – Cloughton and Burniston, Church Becks, Scalby, and Scalby Road/Lady Ediths Drive,

More flood prevention duties are already on the cards for town halls under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 which is due to come into force shortly.

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But many of the authorities which will have new duties and powers under the Act are already getting on with managing flood risk.

A North Yorkshire Flood Risk Management Partnership Board made up of officers from the Environment Agency, York Council, North Yorkshire County Council, Yorkshire Water and drainage boards has already been set up.

Mr Riby added: "Central Government whilst promoting the benefits of the Act are indicating an aspiration for alternative sources of funding to be found to support limited core funding for flood and coastal erosion flood risk management.

"This may mean a greater emphasis on local schemes to reduce flood risk being funded by more locally based organisations or interested parties.

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"This is of concern and will clearly drive a move for greater collaboration amongst potential partners to contribute funding if schemes are to progress in a timely fashion."

As reported by the Yorkshire Post, Scarborough Council succeeded in May in its battle to defend more than 70 properties in Eastfield, near Scarborough, at risk from flash flooding because of rainwater running off fields because it is unable to soak into the ground fast enough.

Eastfield, like many small communities with localised flooding problems, does not benefit from the millions of pounds thrown at tackling the problem on a national level.

But Scarborough Council was granted a 77,000 share of a 5m national war chest set up to tackle local flooding problems all around England.