Mon, 07 Sept 2020
A £30,000 pledge has been made to help “finish the job” of protecting Thatcham from a repeat of the devastating floods of 2007.
The Thatcham Flood Forum is seeking funding to complete a ring of protection around the town following the 2007 flood, when thousands of homes flooded after three months worth of rain fell in 24 hours on July 20.
Bids for flood defences have to be backed by local contributions within their business cases to the Environment Agency and the forum needs to raise around £2.5m for the next wave.
Around £100,000 was raised through grants and donations to support the construction of defences at Dunston Park, Dunstan Green and near Agricola Way.
The forum requested £10,000 a year for the next three financial years to support funding applications from Thatcham Town Council at a recent meeting.
Thatcham Flood Forum’s Surface Water Management Plan (SWMP) funding committee chairman Brian Woodham said the remaining schemes were essential.
The remaining pockets cover the west of Northfield Road and parts of the Rivers estate, part of Siege Cross and an area centred around Paynesdown Road, where some 190 homes are at risk.
Each of the schemes requires proportionately greater ‘local contributions’ as they protect fewer homes than the larger schemes at Dunston Park, Tull Way and Cold Ash Hill.
Mr Woodham said that the scheme was about 85 per cent complete, but there were still around 270 properties that the forum “estimate or know about that were flooded in 07 that still have no defences in place to protect them”.
He said: “We have taken the big hitting items off the table and we now have to finish the job
“It’s taken the best part of 15 years, but we have got as much of Thatcham protected as well as we generally can.”
Mr Woodham said that “major donors” who had contributed to previous schemes, such as the Greenham Trust and SSE, had been approached.
But he said that the Greenham Trust felt “they had done their piece” and that SSE could contribute, but not to a level near the £20,000 it had before.
He said this would not meet the requirements for the business case to be submitted and the projects would be delayed if the funding and case could not be made.
Mr Woodham said that town council contributions would show backing at a time when there would be a lot of interest across the country for the limited funds available.
Recalling the scenes of Stoney Lane resembling “rapids” in 2007, Jeremy Cottam (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) said: “I think anyone here who lived through that will think it’s absolutely essential that we approve this.”
Town mayor Mike Cole (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) said: “This was one of the most traumatic events this town has ever had.
“I feel it is our duty to show some strong support for this.”
The town council contributed £20,000 to the latest schemes and also helped form the SWMP in response to the flooding of 2007.
Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) said the next round would help people with insurance cover and lower premiums.
He said: “If we need to use £30,000 to get more than £2m invested in the town, then I think that’s a good use of taxpayers’ money.
“We adopted the SWMP years ago.
“This is a continuation of it and we should see it through to the end.”