Parish blasts “ill advised” Prime Minister for promising sandbags
Four months after the flooding Colnbrook Parish Council has finally explained its position on sandbags, choosing to berate the Prime Minister and blame both Slough Borough Council and the Environment Agency.
The Parish Council has used its Summer Newsletter distributed this week to tell residents they were wrong to demand sandbags.
The provision of sandbags became a major issue when Slough Borough Council refused to provide them to residents despite a funding commitment made directly by David Cameron.
But the Parish has criticised the Prime Minister for making the promise, claiming that sandbags are not suited as a defence against household flooding.
It was a little unfortunate that the Prime Minister made ill advised comments on TV and that Slough Borough Council and the Environment Agency didn’t properly explain the reasons behind their policies on the provision/non-provision of sandbags.
The Parish statement says:
“The truth is that sandbags are not normally the best form of household defence against rising water levels. They do have their place in reinforcing river banks and being part of the construction of bunds around essential installations. However, they are expensive to provide, store, transport and later dispose of. If the Council supply them to households it will be the ratepayer that funds them.”
Sandbags were provided in flood-hit zones by all but a couple of local authorities. Neighbouring Windsor & Maidenhead provided over 35,000 sandbags directly to residents in Datchet alone, drafting in the military to prepare and distribute them.
The Parish statement suggests residents look at the Environment Agency’s website “in a bit more detail” and tells them to contact the National Flood Forum for help and advice.
However both organisations are unequivocal about the important role sandbags have in preventing household flooding and the Parish view is in stark contradiction to that of experts – as you can see from the sample publications below (click to open).
The Environment Agency acknowledges the limitations of sandbags in an already flooded property. It also encourages people to use purpose made flood protection products such as flood boards, non-return valves for plumbing, air brick covers, and silicon sealant in preference to sandbags where available.
Similarly the National Flood Forum also suggests victims of flooding use door barriers, toilet seat seals and toilet bungs to complement absorbent sandbags. None of these, of course, were readily available in February.
The use of taxpayers’ money to defend an untenable position contrasts with Slough Borough Council’s apology for its communication during the floods, and agreement two weeks ago that it would review its sandbag policy in the wake of anger.
It also contrasts with the Government which appears set on avoiding a repeat next Winter.
Ministerial representatives for each flood hit area have been appointed to understand the local impact of the floods, assess the assistance provided, and track progress of work is underway to improve resilience for winter 2014 to 2015. For Thames Valley, Philip Hammond MP has been appointed, reporting directly to the Prime Minister.
If you have a view, we suggest you make it known directly to Mr Hammond.