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5 March 2014, 06:58
Talks continue today on how to prevent severe flooding in Hampshire in the future.
Winchester MP Steve Brine has brought together local councillors and key agencies for two days of meetings, to consider the lessons learned across Kings Worthy and Headbourne Worthy following recent flooding. The meeting was described as a "first step" in putting plans in place to mitigate future bad weather in the area.
Senior Environment Agency and Southern Water officials joined officers from Hampshire County and Winchester City Councils as well as Parish, City and County Councillors from across the Worthys for the session, held at Tubbs Hall in Kings Worthy on Tuesday 4 March.
Cllr Harry Whorwood from Headbourne Worthy Parish Council and Cllr Phil Allen from Kings Worthy outlined the challenges faced in recent weeks which saw large volumes of water cascading down Springvale Road and brought widespread road closures. Many are still in place although highways officials were present to discuss some partial re-opening which is expected to take place this week.
Linda Tartaglia-Kershaw from Hampshire County Council's Environment Team outlined the work being undertaken at the present time to identify bids for the funding of future flood defence projects which must be submitted in outline form to the Environment Agency by 12 March. The date, which sees the culmination of many months work, had been fixed for 3 March but Steve Brine secured an extension after raising the issue in Parliament last week.
Speaking after the meeting Steve said:
"This was a first step but a useful chance to bring all the key players together to consider what went well and where we need to improve, both in terms of response and infrastructure.
"Both parishes will now work together, with support from the Environment Agency which has a particular specialism in this area, to produce emergency plans which have been invaluable in other areas such as Twyford and Hambledon but were sadly not in place across the Worthys.
"In addition to wide-ranging discussions around the issues created by ground-water flooding, not least the impact on the sewerage systems managed by Southern Water, it was extremely useful to convey to county officers the key messages from these communities as they compile bids to Government for future capital spending."
Mr Brine added that although everything that could be done to lessen the impact of future ground-water flooding would be considered, there was a real need to manage expectations around the extent to which unprecedented weather events can be handled.
The two parish councils are currently keen to hear from residents who have been affected by the recent flooding and hope to organise a joint public meeting in the coming weeks to give residents a chance to have their say.
Meanwhile, more work is planned to prevent future flooding problems in one of the worst-hit areas in Hampshire - Hambledon.
Sean Woodward from Hampshire County Council said they have decided to put a three-foot diameter pipe through the village to help ease the flooding problems there for good. He said:
"It would be able to take storm water and ground water so we can remove it from the village, rather than it flooding the streets and people's homes.
"We've had problems in Hambledon that go back to the 1940s so one would think somebody should have done something. But I think the important thing is that now we are going to do what is needed to sort the problem out once and for all, I hope."