Partnership reveals flood works programme

02 July 2013

More than £4.75 million is to be invested in North Tyneside to ensure the borough and its residents are better prepared against future flooding.

Following some of the worst ever floods in the region 12-months ago all agencies working to tackle the issue in North Tyneside - including Northumbrian Water, the Environment Agency and emergency services - joined forces with North Tyneside Council to create the North Tyneside Surface Water and Drainage Partnership.

And today (Tuesday, July 2), after carrying out extensive fact-finding investigations to explore the causes and gathering feedback from the people whose homes were affected, they have published a list of the work done to date and a programme of future work to be carried out.

The 50-plus individual schemes range from minor solutions such as clearing culverts and replacing grilles to prevent them becoming blocked with debris to major engineering schemes costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

And they tackle some of the areas worst affected on June 28 last year including:

• Chicken Road in Wallsend will benefit from a £100,000 study to improve understanding of how the flooding happened and to look at possible flood defence measures. Also, an improved grille will be fitted soon to prevent blockages of a nearby culvert.
• A £300,000 scheme for Green Lane, Dudley which will see the construction of a scheme to store flood water upstream from the houses, to reduce the risk of flooding.
• A £200,000 flood water store upstream of Briar Vale and Fairfield Green in Whitley Bay where as well as storing flood water upstream away from homes, the design proposal will also aim to remove surface water from a problem culvert.

And some of North Tyneside Council’s financial contribution will include improving our gully cleaning service and ensuring the borough has sufficient stocks of equipment to deliver a proactive response when flooding is predicted.
Coun John Harrison, North Tyneside Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and the Environment said; “Flooding has such a devastating impact on people’s lives, as well as their properties.

“The North Tyneside Surface Water and Drainage Partnership is determined to do whatever we can to help alleviate the risks and make this borough more flood ready, flood safe, and this package of more than £4million of capital works will make a major contribution to help us do that.

“Working together - sharing resources and expertise is proving very effective. Around 20 of the schemes have already been completed - and the majority of the rest are already in progress, although some of the major schemes which depend on large-scale engineering schemes and dealing with land ownership which will take more time to complete.”

Northumbrian Water’s sewerage manager, Mike Madine, said: “Helping to reduce the likelihood of flooding is one of our top priorities and we know how important this is to our customers. As well as investing around £120 million across the North East, between 2010 and 2015, to reduce this risk, we are also making a concerted effort to work more closely with other flood agencies and our customers to help protect our region from flooding. The work being done as part of this partnership clearly reflects this effort and commitment. The flood solutions demonstrate a new approach to tackle flooding in a more innovative and sustainable way.”

Richard Robinson, from the Environment Agency said: “By working together, integrated solutions to flood risk have been identified which will reduce the risk of flooding from multiple sources. We have been able to share experience and best practice which will help in managing flood risk now and in the future”

The council’s highways and engineering services, which are now provided on its behalf by Capita Symonds, will be project managing the work and ensuring its continued successful delivery.

The capital works is just one strand of improvements the partnership is delivering.

A task and finish group, established in June, used its feedback from both the public and key stakeholders, about the improvements needed to come up with a range of recommendations now being addressed.

The Flooding Task and Finish Group, established in June 2012, gathered feedback from the public and key stakeholders on four key areas - Visible preparation and management; Community awareness and resilience; Understanding of response priorities of the council and category one responders under the Civil Contingencies Act ; Visible Partnership and Accountability. The resulting 24 recommendations are now being acted upon.

This included forming a long-term flooding partnership for North Tyneside which will bring partners - including emergency services, Northumbria Water, the Environment Agency, and the council - together to better coordinate plans and investment in flood prevention schemes.

The Council has introduced major changes in how it responds to flooding.

Capita Symonds has developed a new operational flood action plan, to be implemented on the Council’s behalf to ensure an improved response to flooding. This includes the provision of new area flood inspectors and dedicated response plans with associated equipment for 38 priority areas across the borough.

However, all decisions around the flooding response in an emergency situation will be managed by North Tyneside Council.

The authority is also leading on the partnership’s improved communication and engagement with the public through its ‘Flood Ready, Flood safe’ campaign.

This aims to help residents and businesses to understand how the partnership responds in flooding to keep the borough safe in line with responsibilities for emergency responders under the Civil Contingencies Act. An initial information event was held in March and will be followed up with road shows in the four parts of the borough.

But it also aims to help individuals and communities to be more resilient by being better prepared themselves, for example preparing their own flood plans, and using appropriate equipment to protect their properties, such as airbrick covers.

A new network of flood wardens, replicating an approach already working well in Morpeth, is also being implemented in North Tyneside

Councillor Harrison added: “As a partnership we are doing all we can to protect our communities and residents from future flooding devastation.

“But this is about much more than delivering physical construction schemes. To be effective it also has to be a partnership with individuals and neighbourhoods. The flood wardens and information sharing to make sure people are better prepared is just as important if we are going to work together to make a difference.”

There are simple preparations that everyone can take to keep themselves, and their home or business, ‘ Flood ready, Flood safe’.

1. Prepare a flood kit and keep it in a safe place

Your flood kit could include:

• Important personal documents (including your insurance policy)
• Torch
• A list of useful telephone numbers including:
o a friend, relative or neighbour who can help you
o doctor
o utility companies
o insurance company
o local hotel/B&B
o vet/kennels/cattery
o Floodline - 0845 988 1188
o North Tyneside Council - 0345 2000 101

• Mobile phone ( if you have one) and charger
• Rubber gloves
• Wellington boots
• Waterproof and warm clothes
• First aid kit
• Blankets
• Any medication you take regularly
• Bottled water
• Non-perishable food items
• If you have a pet - a portable carrier
• Battery or wind-up radio.

2. Make a personal flood plan

For example, this could include:

• A plan for your escape route from your home. If you live in a house and have window locks make sure you keep a key upstairs
• Think about what you can move now e.g. items of personal value - and think what you would want to move to safety during a flood
• Make sure you know how to shut off your gas, electric and water supplies
• Think about who would be able to help you.

You can download a personal flood plan template from the Environment Agency website - www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood

3. Make sure your home is prepared

• There are a range of flood protection products on the market to help you protect your property from flood damage. A directory of these is available from the National Flood Forum at www.bluepages,org.uk

• Register for Floodline by calling 0845 988 1188 or visit the Environment Agency website: www.environment-agency.gov.uk, where you can get practical advice on what to do before, during and after flooding.

4. Be on alert

• Sign up for Met Office weather warnings at www.metoffice.gov.uk
• Sign up for the Environment Agency flood alerts either at www.environment-agency.gov.uk or telephone 0845 988 1188.

5. Learn more about what you can do

• Health Protection Agency - for important health advice and some basic precautions to keep you and your family safe - www.hpa.org.uk
• Food Standards Agency - www.foodstandards.gov.uk
• National Flood Forum - www.Floodforum.org.uk or telephone (01299) 403 055

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