2nd Flood Forum for Maidstone and the Weald
On Boxing Day and in the ensuing week last year I was working amidst a large number of people tackling the swollen waters of the Medway at Allington Lock, at Fairmeadow in Maidstone and in Yalding. A range of different measures were needed to deal with the challenges at different locations and it quickly became apparent that a plan had to be devised and implemented, one that joins together the actions of all stakeholders in a concerted effort to avoid future flood damage.
I convened my first Flood Forum back in February from which a nine point action plan was devised between 22 stakeholders. On October 10th we re-convened to review progress. Representatives attended from the Environment Agency, parish, borough and county councils, emergency services, key interest groups, residents and businesses; all presented a progress report and I was extremely encouraged.
Immediate measures now being taken to mitigate a repeat of last year's devastation include; new flood warning systems - going live at the end of the month; flood information packs and 13 new flood wardens in place; an extension for applications for the 'repair and renew' grant secured, and a new dredger set to be ordered.
We have an integrated plan that has been recognised by the Secretary of State, Liz Truss, as a model for others to follow in our country. She calls it Partnership Working and she re-confirmed to me the advice given by her predecessor Owen Paterson that DEFRA will only to agree to fund major works, such as increasing the capacity of the Leigh Barrier, if there is clear evidence of Partnership Working under a co-ordinated plan.
I was pleased to see the Secretary of State tweeting prior to our flood forum that she was "keen to hear outcome" and "looking forward to receiving an update". Let's hope our efforts will persuade her to approve the funding requests already submitted for the major works we need in our area.
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