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Rutland County Council cannot give answers on flooding caused by Storm Henk and Babet until investigation complete





People affected by recent flooding are still without answers - and could be for years.

Rutland County Council called a special meeting in response to flooding from Storm Babet and Storm Henk, which left a number of roads, homes and businesses across the county flooded.

Dozens of people attended the two-hour meeting on Thursday (January 18) – which was called for by six Conservative councillors and Tory MP for Rutland Alicia Kearns – with many local residents putting forward questions to the council.

Rutland County Council's flooding meeting on January 18
Rutland County Council's flooding meeting on January 18

Gordon Brown, chairperson of Barrowden Parish Council and speaking on behalf of the village, told the panel of councillors: “During Storm Babet seven premises were flooded and during Storm Henk two of those premises were flooded for a second time.

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“In our view Rutland County Council failed to respond adequately at the time or during the three months following the first incident.

“FixMyStreet reports were raised and advised as complete without adequate investigation.

“In our opinion and the available evidence, the flooding was caused by surface water pipework being blocked or damaged.

The River Welland flowing through Ketton
The River Welland flowing through Ketton

Coun Brown added that the villagers dug a ditch to try to slow the water and are very concerned about future floods.

Cynthia Moss of Whissendine Parish Council spoke of how the village has had nine road closures due to flooding since Storm Babet on October 20, and that homes and businesses, including The White Lion Inn, were hit.

She called on the council for better training for planning staff and councillors around flooding to avoid ‘poor planning decisions’.

“Please take us seriously when we try to highlight flooding issues in planning applications,” said Coun Moss.

Main Street, Whissendine is flooded
Main Street, Whissendine is flooded

“We are trying to help planners, not undermine them, but we are the ones who live here and have studied the area.”

Questions were raised about whether blocked drains and poor management of dykes and verges caused flooding, and what the council’s plans are moving forward.

In answer to many of the questions, cabinet member for environment Coun Christine Wise (Lib Dem) told the flood-hit residents how further investigation is needed to get answers.

She acknowledged her responses sounded repetitive but said: “It is very important we understand why the flooding is happening, other than because rain is falling.

The flooding on the A6003 at Manton. Photo: Megan Allen
The flooding on the A6003 at Manton. Photo: Megan Allen

“A section 19 investigation will look at the reasons why then we can look at how best to mitigate.”

She added: “It’s not to say [the floods] weren’t down to poor maintenance but we need to be absolutely sure that’s the reason.

“It is all part of the investigation.”

It is believed the quickest the investigation will be complete is a year, but it is likely to drag on longer.

In a statement released after the meeting, leader of Rutland County Council Gale Waller (Lib Dem) said: “This is a thorough process which can take significant time, as we know from other councils who’ve carried out the same kind of review.

“Once complete, it will provide firm recommendations for all those who have responsibility for managing and responding to local flooding.”

Greg Harker of Stretton Parish Council asked if the council would be liable if a volunteer became injured and whether it is acceptable for local people to remove cars from flooded areas when emergency services don’t attend.

To this the answer was clear.

“The advice is not to walk or drive through flood water as it is not safe,” said Coun Wise.

“30cm of fast-flowing water can knock an adult over.”

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More on this story

'The devastation is unbelievable'

Security firm hired to protect village

£35,000 to support those affected by flooding

'We have been badly let down - this has to be a wake up call'

'Incompetence caused this'

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Among the areas worst hit were Barleythorpe, in particular Ostler’s Drive, and Whitwell.

Rutland County Council is lobbying the government to release extra funding for flood-hit areas.

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