MP critical of 'slow progress' to tackle flooding

MP Jonathan Djanogly has written to Cambridgeshire County Council to raise concerns over winter flooding.

MP Jonathan Djanogly has written to Cambridgeshire County Council to raise concerns over winter flooding. - Credit: Geoff Soden/Jonathan Djanogly

MP Jonathan Djanogly is calling on Cambridgeshire County Council to take action to prevent winter flooding after “increasing concern” from his constituents.  

The Huntingdon MP has written a letter to chief executive Gillian Beasley urging that work takes place to avoid a similar situation to the flooding of December 2020.  

Mr Djanogly writes that it “appears little progress has been made” over the last 10 months.  

The county council responded to Mr Djanogly stating that formal investigations had taken place to ascertain the cause of the flooding and the next steps to take. 

“Numerous residents and businesses have contacted me across my constituency to relay their experiences and seek assurances that steps will be taken to minimise the risk of future flooding,” Mr Djanogly said in the letter to CCC.

“It is evident that a large proportion of the flooding was caused by surface water infiltration either through blocked gullies or run off from roads and fields.   

“It is widely accepted that action needs to be taken to address these issues, but yet little progress appears to have been made.  

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“With winter fast approaching and, having already experienced a period of inclement weather just last week, my constituents are becoming increasingly concerned.”  

Flooding last Christmas devastated hundreds across Cambridgeshire when people had their homes and businesses wrecked in what were described as the worst floods in more than 20 years. Some are only returning to their properties now.  

Flooding in St Neots.

Flooding in St Neots at Christmas. - Credit: Andza Alive

In recent weeks, Buckden and Huntingdon were also caught out by flash floods during the night.  

“ experience further flooding in the coming months would be devastating,” Mr Djanogly continued.  

“I understand that meetings of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Flood and Water Partnership have been put on hold since May when the new coalition administration took over leadership of the county council.  

“I am concerned that this has contributed to the slow progress that has been made in the last 10 months.  

 “I would be grateful for your assurance that action will now be taken with some urgency to ensure that all that can be done to minimise the risk to my constituents, has been done.” 

Flooding in Buckden house

Flooding in Buckden family home caused by clogged drains. - Credit: Family

In response to the flooding, the county council clarified the steps taken across Huntingdonshire including:  

  •  A gully cleaning programme in place and areas that are known to have flooded have been prioritised. Further cleaning is programmed over the coming year. 

  •  Working jointly with landowners and other authorities to ensure clearance of watercourses in St Ives, Buckden, Colne, Woodwalton, St Neots, the Offords, Old Hurst, Pidley, Godmanchester, Abbotsley and Great Paxton. 

  • Working with our highway contractor to design a scheme to implement in Buckden to alleviate the risk of flooding to residential properties. 

  • Ordering of maintenance of key highway infrastructure related to flooding such as pumps at Rusts Lane in Alconbury. 

  • Engaging with National Highways to ensure clearance of a watercourse beneath the A1 in Alconbury. 

  • Engaging with Network Rail to ensure clearance of a watercourse and culvert in the Offords 

  • Continued engagement with the Environment Agency regarding maintenance of sections of Main River in areas such as Broughton and St Ives.  

  • Hosting a property flood resilience event in St Neots, using the OxCam Pathfinder funded ‘Floodmobile’ to demonstrate over 50 practical measures of flood resilience. 

Hilary Ellis, flood risk business manager, added: “We continue to respond to individual cases that are reported to us such as concerns over blocked or poorly maintained watercourses.  

“In these cases, we engage with the landowner to ensure appropriate channel maintenance is undertaken.” 

As The Hunts Post went to press on Tuesday (November 9), a motion to protect homes and property from unnecessary surface water was also carried forward by Cambridgeshire County Council at their full council meeting. 

The motion had been put forward by Councillor Mark Goldsack.

It is hoped that a full audit of issues with underground highways problems will now be assessed to “cope with the regular and anticipated deluges”. 

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Lorna Dupre, said: “Domestic flooding is absolutely devastating event that is happening far too often."

Further plans on flood risk management are set to be discussed at the county council’s Environment and Green Investment meeting next Tuesday (November 16).