Last year the South West was hit with severe flooding. Wiltshire had four times as many dwellings flooded than Somerset and in our area, the river Avon caused major problems. Bradford on Avon was worst affected but Melksham and Chippenham, as well as our villages, all had flooding difficulties.
The Conservatives’ in Wiltshire Council have invested over £1million in improving flood defences and clearing drains and culverts; significantly more than in other counties. Last year, I wrote to the Government’s flooding Minister and was pleased that the Government reacted by awarding £282,000 for emergency repairs. I will continue to push for more investment in local services such as flood defences, which are needed to protect local residents and businesses.
This week I have been in Chippenham, Staverton, Melksham and Holt where the river is very high. A number of roads have been closed or impassable, thankfully so far, the defences are working well and homes and businesses remain dry.
More unsettled weather is forecast for next week and the already high river levels could rise again. The Environment Agency is monitoring the situation closely but the ability to predict flooding is not an exact science. It has, however, improved enormously since the setting up of the Flood Forecasting Centre, which brings together the Met Office and the Environment Agency.
In many places in our towns, villages and farms, it wouldn’t take much for a flood risk to become a damaging flood. A blocked drain, fallen tree or a collapsed wall blocking a stream, could make an otherwise manageable situation deteriorate quickly.
I urge all those who think they may be at risk, especially those close to water sources, to watch streams and brooks closely and monitor flood alerts by:
- Getting updates from the Council’s teams via @WiltshireWinter on Twitter or visit their emergency notices website HERE.
- Getting updates from the Environment Agency HERE or on Twitter via @EnvAgencySW and #floodaware
- Signing up to flood alerts via the Flood Alerts Facebook App on facebook.com/FloodAlerts
- Ringing the new Floodline number: 0345 988 11 88