Colnbrook residents sandbagged over proposed Flood Action Group

They didn’t listen for four months … but now they want to rush through a meeting with residents in just four days.  Whether it is naive good intentions or tick-in-the-box bureaucracy, the National Flood Forum is resisting calls to hold on until there is enough time to get the word out to residents.

Do we have enough groups: the Flood Action Group is envisaged to liaise with the Technical Flood Group via a "flood arm"

Do we have enough groups: the Flood Action Group is envisaged to liaise with the Technical Flood Group via a “flood arm”

In a surprising move, the National Flood Forum has today summoned residents to the Village Hall on Monday to get moving with setting up a Flood Action Group for the village.

The charity, which gives out “the Golden Sandbag Award” to individuals who have provided exceptional service to victims of flooding,  was tasked with getting residents on board at the first meeting of the Technical Flood Group on May 24.   With a follow-up to that approaching in three weeks’ time and nothing done so far, it now seems there is a rush to appear to be doing something.

The National Flood Forum was set up to assist communities affected by flooding and to guide legislation.

Both the CRA and CCA have made their views known that 4 clear days – or 2 if you discount weekends – is simply not enough time to get the word out.  The two community groups have already been discussing setting up a wider-focused Emergency Committee to address future crises, including flooding.  Nevertheless, Libby Ferns from the National Flood Forum, is determined to go ahead regardless.

The National Flood Forum's flyer for the Flood Action Group (click to open)

The National Flood Forum’s flyer for the Flood Action Group (click to open)

The invitation asks residents, vaguely, do you want to shape the future of flood risk management in Colnbrook?

Minutes from the Technical Flood Group meeting in May showed that while those agencies present recognised the need for ‘local relationships and knowledge’ they already dismissed residents’ concerns over poor communication during February’s flooding.

And with a report on the causes of the flooding now delayed until the end of the year, residents are still feeling left in the dark.

The terms of reference for the new group are as yet undefined,  but Mrs Ferns says in a flyer:

“During this meeting we will be discussing people’s flood experiences in Colnbrook, and possible ways forward in how the group can bring about positive change.”

Mrs Ferns has also indicated that, in parallel with the Flood Action Group, she intends to set up a “flood arm” involving the parish council and the various residents associations which could liaise between the FAG and the Technical Flood Group:

“This would be a unified group of volunteers to help those who flood, and with any community flood mitigation where we need more man power.”

With THREE groups focused on the issue surely it is inconceivable that Colnbrook will ever flood again!

As with Thames Valley’s reluctance to work with existing groups, many are already suggesting the FAG is set to go the way of the NAG.  While overlapping objectives mean residents are likely to avoid the narrow focus of these agency-run forums, the fear is that those same agencies will simply conclude “Colnbrook wasn’t interested”.

Monday’s meeting will take place at the Village Hall from 7-9pm.



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