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Newark councillors urge action after homes flooded 10 times

Newark district councillors have called for stronger planning rules to prevent flooding from devastating the region again.

Homes along the Trent Valley were flooded and evacuated last month after a major incident was declared during Storm Henk.

Councillors last night (February 13) said the district couldn’t return to “business as usual”, with events that previously only occurred once in a hundred years repeatedly happening.

They called for all responsible bodies to come together and produce a joined-up plan to address the threat.

This would include the district and county councils, central government, the Environment Agency, Severn Trent Water and other drainage authorities.

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Councillor Paul Taylor (Lab), the Portfolio Holder for Public Protection and Community Relations, proposed the motion.

“Many residents have gone through hell. We’ve just been through another weekend where many feared they would be flooded,” he told the full council meeting.

“We all know it will happen again but we don’t know when.

“Let’s not pretend that because the weather has gone, people’s pain and suffering has gone. We’re still in the recovery stage.

“We need to make sure lessons are learned.

“Unfortunately, the Environment Agency’s flood maps are out of date in many places, so we need to push for our planning department to be allowed to use local knowledge.”

He said that the council had to borrow boats from other authorities as waters rose, while in some communities flood wardens who attempted to close roads were abused by drivers.

Councillor Roger Jackson (Con) said: “My district is in a high-risk flood area. Some homes have been flooded ten times in 25 years.

“We’re having a lot more rain and we need to plan properly for it. A lot of infrastructure which has been neglected for many years needs to be brought back into use.

“Nottinghamshire County Council needs to be given better resources to maintain drains and gulleys.

“Too many landowners are also neglecting their responsibilities to maintain the dykes and ditches.”

Flood defences which are nearly completed in Lowdham were credited with protecting many homes there in future.

Councillor Emma Oldham (Ind) said: “The flooding has really taken a toll on people’s mental health. They are living in fear whenever the rains come.

“Flood events are rare but are becoming more frequent. We must not revert back to business as usual.”

She said natural solutions, like restoring wetlands and creating reed beds, would minimise the impact while creating green jobs.

Councillors voted unanimously to back the motion, with Councillor Rowan Cozens (Ind) saying: “There are no party politics here, this is an existential crisis.”

Council officers will be meeting partners in other agencies next week to discuss the lessons learnt from Storm Henk.

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