THREE Godmanchester pensioners believe they could save public money and get better protection for their town by ditching an £11million flood defence scheme in favour of a simpler option.

THREE Godmanchester pensioners believe they could save public money and get better protection for their town by ditching an £11million flood defence scheme in favour of a simpler option.

The trio includes octogenarian Bill Brown, who spent a working life on river maintenance in the area, Pat Doherty, 77, from Kisby Avenue, whose working life in construction included extensive experience of watercourse management and former builder John Thackray, of Allen Farm Close,

They say that, instead of raising the level of the 1860s-built wall along The Causeway - itself "one of the finest examples of Victorian flood protection," the Environment Agency should construct a new sluice or weir further upstream to divert flood water into Cook's backwater, designed to alleviate flooding but now heavily silted.

The three men attribute their proposal to the 17th century Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden, who is celebrated for having drained the Fens of East Anglia whose principle was to get rid of flood water as quickly as possible. Mr Doherty says that would involve building an additional sluice or weir between Port Holme and Godmanchester to divert flood water before it reached Godmanchester. There would then be no need to raise the height of the wall. The water would be despatched across the meadow to Cook's Bridge and through channels in the meadows south of the main river to rejoin the main channel in Hartford.

Cook's Bridge originally had two sets of eight arches, but one was filled in before planning consent was given for the marina, Mr Doherty said. "That has quartered the flood-relief effect, and it has been neglected since privatisation."

The trio is also concerned that around 100 mature trees would be lost under the EA's proposed scheme.

The Environment Agency said its project manager for the scheme was hoping to arrange a meeting to discuss these ideas. The agency's scheme, first proposed in 2005, is for a combination of flood walls and flood embankments alongside the river.