The MP for Skegness has apologised to angry residents in Wainfleet, admitting that organisations ‘failed the town’.
Matt Warman opened a packed meeting at Coronation Hall by saying: “Government exists to prevent the kind of flooding we saw.
“It exists to try to protect people who are vulnerable and whatever you might think of any of the agencies who are here tonight, they all get up every morning of every day trying to stop the kind of events we saw happen.
“It is a failure we are in this position – largely down to a whole load of factors. But I am not standing saying any of us are proud to be in this position.
“So that is a flat-out ‘sorry’.”
The meeting aimed to let residents question those in charge over the flooding which hit the area on June 12.
The collapse of a river embankment following “unprecedented” rainfall saw hundreds of homes evacuated.
RAF Helicopters costing nearly £1 million were drafted in to help block the collapse.
East Lindsey District Council, which is leading the recovery phase, confirmed yesterday that 63 homes had been flooded internally.
Residents at last night’s meeting called for any independent review of the events to be carried out by an external body. They were told another council would undertake the review.
It is understood Norfolk Council have been asked to do so.
Representatives of the Environment Agency and Mr Warman both promised residents they would meet with them once studies were completed to discuss options moving forward.
Members of ELDC’s recovery team are currently set up at Coronation Hall on a daily basis to help those affected by the floods with any issues they may be having.
“Solve it now”
Angry residents have demanded answers and solutions over the recent flooding in Wainfleet at the meeting.
Vocal residents said that if the nearby waterways had been de-silted the floods would not have been as bad as they had been.
They said nearby gates had also not been opened enough to let water through and criticised the EA for not letting local people help to block the breach at points during the operation.
They called on the EA to take heed of local knowledge going forward.
However Environment bosses disagreed with residents that de-silting was the answer.
They said it would have had “little impact” on the events that took place.
They said they carried out de-silting in rivers, but only when it was felt to be effective.
Norman Robinson from the Environment Agency said: “Dredging this system would not have stopped this
They said de-silting would only be a part of a wider solution which also needed to tackle issues such as the speed of water coming down from the Wolds.
Mr Warman told residents that maintenance of the waterways was a key issue going forward, however, added that “even with gold standard maintenance we need a better system than the one which was constructed.”
Wainfleet could become a “flagship” of modern flood defences with 10s of millions of pounds injected into it said Mr Warman.
He told those attending the crowded Coronation Hall he had spoken to Michael Gove, who had agreed funding would be made available.
He praised Mr Gove for opening the public purse during the event itself and said his support had been “unequivocal and rapidly forthcoming”.
Although he couldn’t say when funding would be coming, he said he hoped it could be applied for by the Autumn Spending review.
Speaking following the meeting, he told Local Democracy Reporter: “The EA, Defra and therefore the Environment Secretary is very keen we use Wainfleet as a pathfinder project, as a flagship for what flood defence looks like in an area like this in the 21st century.
“That allows us to do things here that would ordinarily take a long time, by taking this “pilot approach” we can hopefully cut through any beaurocratic delay.
“We are looking into the 10s of millions and we have to, therefore, make sure we are delivering value for money.”
Mr Warman added that he wanted to see a change in funding formula for the Environment Agency in general. Currently the formula favours those places with a high number of residents whereas places like Wainfleet which are seen as sparsely populated get less money.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this story, you can contact a reporter on [email protected]
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