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South Kesteven District Council leader reflects on impact of flooding and severe weather events

“Water, water, everywhere” wrote the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in a line oft-quoted by weather forecasters and the prophets of climate change, writes Ashley Baxter, leader of South Kesteven District Council (Ind).

Recently, I have spent a lot of time thinking about water.

Last winter, over 800 households were flooded during Storm Henk and Storm Babet which affected many parts of Lincolnshire including the villages of Greatford and Tallington. An unprecedented 278 separate ‘Section 19’ investigation reports are due to be completed by the end of August and the conclusions will help inform the response to future flooding and severe weather events.

Flooding in Greatford on January 3, 2024. Photo: Adam Brookes
Flooding in Greatford on January 3, 2024. Photo: Adam Brookes

Last Friday, with colleagues from Lincolnshire County Council, I met Anglian Water to better understand the lack of progress on the new drinking water grid for the east of England. This is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe and will create a pipeline to transfer water from the relatively wet areas of North Lincolnshire down to Essex where water is more scarce for reasons of climate, population and ease of abstraction. Unfortunately, delays to the project caused by world events and inflation mean the only evidence of progress locally is a scarred landscape with thousands of blue pipes awaiting installation. Farmers are very concerned about the impact of the delays on their yield and the deterioration of the topsoil which has been temporarily removed. Sadly, it looks like years before the pipeline will be finished.

On a more positive note, I joined dozens of residents by the River Welland on Saturday for a litter-pick organised by the Deepings River Action Group. Rivers provide so much to our towns and countryside in the form of wildlife, biodiversity and irrigation and, like anything beautiful, we need to ensure they are well looked after.

Apart from the weather, over these last few weeks two of our other national conversations have received particular attention in the pub and in the press, namely football and politics.

South Kesteven District Council leader Ashley Baxter
South Kesteven District Council leader Ashley Baxter

I daren’t say much about England’s performance in the Euros so far but obviously wish the team success. However, I can already say congratulations to the four Members of Parliament elected this week to represent various parts of South Kesteven. I wish them every success and look forward to working with all of them to promote the needs and aspirations of residents across the district.

I have been the leader of the council for less than six months and can only imagine the stresses and strains of leading a national government. Therefore, I have no hesitation in offering my best wishes to the Prime Minister too. I hope he will be supported by the new parliament in achieving the very best for Britain.

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