‘Scaled back’ flood plan to go ahead in Godmanchester

PLANS for Godmanchester’s �9million flood defence scheme to protect more than 500 homes - thought to be on the brink of collapse - will be scaled back to meet a funding shortfall.

Unless the town council find �150,000, the Environment Agency will be forced to remove non-essential improvements from the flood alleviation scheme in Godmanchester after the Regional Flood and Coastal Defence Committee (RFDC) agreed to provide �3.25million for the plans to go ahead last Thursday (January 12).

Geoff Brighty, Environment Agency area manager, looked to the town council to pay the remaining sum of �150,000 after Huntingdonshire District and Cambridgeshire County Councillors each offered �175,000 and a further �3million was found from government grants, with �2million already spent on the scheme.

The chairman of the RFDC, Steve Wheatley, feared that committee members would not be convinced the town wanted the scheme after the town failed to pledge the remaining money ahead of the RFDC meeting.

His fears were realised when members, representing Milton Keynes and Central Bedfordshire Councils, questioned whether Godmanchester intended on contributing in the future or whether they were trying to escape backing the plan financially.

County Councillor Ian Bates asked the committee to go ahead with the plans but take non-essential improvements out to save the money needed. “We can give them the cake but not the icing,” he told The Hunts Post.

“We are very pleased for the community of Godmanchester that this is going to go ahead but we still need to engage with the town council to make sure they contribute.

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“I would hope that they will put money towards the scheme because it will be of benefit to the whole of Godmanchester, which was the driving force behind mine and Councillor Mandy Smith’s support.”

Councillor Robert Underwood told his colleagues on the town council that it was not in their legal powers under section 137 of the Local Government Act (1972) to pay the remaining �150,000 as the price per constituent was too high. The council decided to seek alternative sources for the money.