Kate writes a bi-weekly column for the Burton Mail. This column was originally featured in the 8th October print edition.
Whilst most people’s main focus at the moment is understandably Coronavirus, it is important that we don’t lose sight of other issues that can affect us all. As Autumn arrives, and the weather begins to change, we head towards that part of the year that can regularly cause flooding misery for many.
2020 started with the wettest January and February on record and we saw the precarious situation in Burton town centre, where the River Trent was just inches away from breaching the temporary flood defences. Thankfully the defences held but I do feel that much more work needs to be done all year round and not just as an emergency response.
In villages such as Marchington and Rolleston on Dove residents were not so fortunate. I visited Marchington and saw for myself the devastation caused to homes – a problem that they have battled time and time again. Residents have bought their own sandbags and prepared their own flood defences and worked tirelessly to set up a Flood Warden Scheme to try to minimise flood damage. However, bureaucracy seems to stop progress at every level, and I am pushing the Government to support villages to implement these protective measures urgently.
Of course, flood water inevitably contains dirt and grime from drains which is why ongoing maintenance of drains is so vitally important. In Branston there are streets that flood with simply the lightest rainfall and, whilst the local authority works hard to ensure regular drain cleaning, it is very clear that further support is needed for local authorities to carry out this work and that all those with responsibility for drainage, such as housing developers, Highways teams and the water company must also play their part.
2020 has not been a good year, after the flooding we went straight into a pandemic and emergency response teams have been stretched to their limits. It is possible that as we go into the winter and the new year we might have to respond to severe floods whilst also operating under the restrictions that Coronavirus brings.
This week I took part in a Westminster Hall debate on exactly this topic. Myself and colleagues urged the Government to ensure that plans are in place to consider how responses may need to differ this year, particularly in relation to households with vulnerable people or those who may need to shield. In a year where the country has endured so much already it is so important that we are prepared for the potential floods that autumn and winter can bring, so that families and businesses have the best possible protection.