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Staffordshire County Council updating flood risk management plans

Helping residents become more resilient to flooding and securing funding for alleviation schemes are two of the ways Staffordshire County Council plans to manage risks in the future.

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Stone Road flooding in Eccleshall in January 2021. Photo: Councillor Peter Jones

Residents, businesses and other organisations across the county have been asked to help shape plans to manage flood risks in a public consultation that closed last week.

A number of towns and communities, including parts of Stafford and Eccleshall, have faced floods in recent years and Staffordshire County Council is updating its flood risk management plans.

A draft version of the strategy was presented to the authority’s cabinet at its latest meeting.

A series of actions are planned, including identifying communities at risk, investigating flooding incidents, helping to make businesses and residents more aware and resilient and working with communities to develop flood alleviation schemes.

Councillor Simon Tagg, the council's cabinet member for environment, infrastructure and climate change, said: “Our county has experienced at least 15 significant storm events since 2000, with nine of those events occurring between 2018 and 2022. These events have highlighted the need for an updated local flood risk management strategy, which takes into account the lessons learned from past flooding incidents in the county and national policy changes.

“We are revising our emerging draft strategy to ensure our county is prepared for future flood events. We’re confident our revised strategy will help us better prepare for future flood events and protect our county’s residents and infrastructure.

“Climate change is an impact on this and we can have an impact ourselves locally as we bring nature back, start planting trees and do that in a way that relieves flooding issues further downstream. Our team are looking into that closely and aligning it with things we do in our climate change and carbon reduction agenda.”

Council leader Alan White highlighted the increasing transformation of residents’ front gardens from grass patches to block paving and Tarmac over the past two decades. He said: “(Water) runs straight off into the drains, which causes flash flooding issues which then lead to the flooding in people’s houses they complain about.

“I’m wondering whether or not there is something we can do with the local planning authorities about people’s overall desire to Tarmac everything over. I imagine there was quite a lot of water absorbed by lawns and patches of grass in the old days, which now sloshes straight into the road.

“One of the areas I get regular complaints is because the entire road has now got cars on block paving, on what was effectively the front garden. And the poor person at the bottom of the street in Fazeley finds themselves the recipient of a tidal wave of water that comes down it.”

Councillor Jonathan Price, who has been working with residents and organisations such as the Environment Agency to tackle flooding issues in Stafford’s Sandon Road area, welcomed the strategy.

He said: “It’s interesting to see on a page a picture of Sandon Road with some wheelie bins floating down the main street.

“I have to say there is a scheme now in place, but without the support of the lead flood authority, which is ourselves, collaboratively working with Severn Trent Water and the Environment Agency, that scheme may not have got off the ground. I wanted to thank your officers for the work you have done to support me with this, as you have done in other areas across the county.

“This particular flooding issue has been going on for about 110 years. So if I, in my small term within the county council, deliver some flood risk management in that area it will be a win-win for the local residents.”