A PUBLIC funding campaign to protect Thatcham from a repeat of devastating flooding has raised half of its target in two months.
Thatcham Flood Forum launched its Keep the Floods from Thatcham’s Doors campaign in March, asking residents and businesses to help raise £100,000 in three months, half of the required £200,000, in order to unlock government funds to build flood defences for the town.
More than 1,100 Thatcham homes were flooded in July 2007, when the sewer system struggled to cope with excessive rainwater.
The flash flooding brought chaos to Thatcham, forcing people out of their homes, disrupting business and closing schools.
A plan to defend the town from a repeat of the misery identified the need for four flood retention basins, with the intention of storing excess rainwater and allowing it to flow into the sewer system at a controlled rate. The scheme has already led to the completion of the first pond at the bottom of Cold Ash Hill, while work on a second to the north of Tull Way is expected to begin this year. The two remaining basins will be situated to the east of Foxglove Way, and above the Kennet Lea and Kennet Heath estates.
And a cash boost of £10,000 from the Berkshire Community Foundation towards the remaining ponds has recently been awarded to the campaign.
Thatcham Flood Forum’s funding committee chairman Brian Woodham said the amount was very significant.
He said that as the Greenham Common Trust was match-funding every £10 worth of donations, including £20,000 each from Thatcham Town and West Berkshire Council, the forum had reached its £100,000 target.
Mr Woodham said that 11 people had donated nearly £1,000, including Gift Aid and matched-funding, along with a share of £1,000 from the Waitrose Green Box Token Appeal
The forum will also be launching appeals to local and national businesses with offices in and around Thatcham in the coming months.
Thanking all who had contributed, Mr Woodham said that the defences were vital in order not to see a repeat of the 2007 floods.
He said that changes in Government funding meant that funds could only be released if schemes had local contributions attached to a bid.
“Many people and businesses would expect all of this to be funded from taxes,” he said. “The best way to look at it is that up to 90 per cent of the design and construction cost (typically around £1 million per basin) will come from taxes. Our challenge is to raise about 10 per cent, or £100K per basin, locally to close the gap.
“We are appealing to every resident to make a donation, every pound will help to pay to ‘Keep the Floods from Thatcham’s Doors’.
Additionally every business in the town can help to make the town safe as a whole, to protect their employees and to ensure that their business will not be affected when we get the next storm event.
“If the whole community can be involved we will get the money we need from the Government. Getting £100,000 is a big milestone. It shows to central government that these people really want these schemes. That’s what it’s all about.”
To donate visit www.findmeagrant.org/wberks and type WB11089 into the keyword search.
For more information contact Thatcham Flood Forum on enquiries@thatchamfloodforum.