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Greens Call for Credible Response to Flooding Threat in Oxfordshire

Flooding across the county is now a perennial and repeated problem, the North Oxfordshire Green Party are calling for a credible multi-agency response to flooding problems in Cherwell and beyond.

Flooding is now a regular occurrence across the district and in areas like, Banbury, Bicester, Kidlington, Yarnton and Begbroke district and parish councillors have been trying to deal with both the aftermath and the immediate threat posed by these challenging and distressing events.

Much of this is due to the impact of climate change, but there are also problems created by lack of proper maintenance of flood defences, culverts and swales.  Increased development on surrounding areas has also exacerbated the problem, and with huge amounts of additional houses planned for the green fields around villages in South Cherwell, there are now serious concerns amongst residents about what the future holds.

Run-off from areas like Spring Hill are sources of flood water which now regularly hit the villages of Yarnton and Begbroke below. These are areas due to be built on as part of Cherwell’s recently adopted partial plan review (site PR9).

I’m regularly being contacted, both as a district and parish councillor, by residents watching flood water approaching their homes, yet there are very few options open to me to help them. 

Flooding in Garden city Kidlington

These incidents often occur out of office hours. As a district councillor I have an emergency response number to call, but the last time I used that when I was trying to help residents facing flooding in Garden City Kidlington, I was told I should call the police and ask them to deal with it.  When I did so, the police operator seemed bemused that I was given that advice

Other agencies such as the fire service are quite understandably reluctant to tie up vital fire and rescue resources unless property has actually been inundated.  This is quite a distressing situation to have to explain to residents who are trying to prevent that from happening in the first place.

Thames water are usually difficult to reach and often do very little when they are finally contacted.  I hear regular complaints about blocked drains and flood channels as well as pumping stations either not working at all or being unable to cope with the level of flood water.  Again, the only emergency contact I have for Thames Water is the same number that any member of the public can call

The county council will deliver sandbags, but usually by that point the situation has reached crisis level and residents have to hope that they will hold back water which may already be at their thresholds

This just isn’t good enough.  We need to stop treating these incidents as one-off events and put together a credible, structured, multi-agency response that can swing into action when councillors and other local agencies need it. It’s very frustrating as a local councillor not being able to help when residents expect you to have levers to pull that just aren’t available to us

Advancing climate change means that we will now have to live with the escalating threat of flooding on a year-round basis.  Increased development on what are now relatively permeable green spaces, such as Spring Hill in Begbroke will only make matters worse.

This is not a criticism of individual agencies.  There just seems to be no credible protocol about what can and should be done and who should be doing it. We need a central control point that can co-ordinate a response to all levels of flooding whenever and wherever it happens, as well as a local flood task force to ensure flood defences are mapped and regularly maintained.

Advancing climate change means that we will now have to live with the escalating threat of flooding on a year-round basis.  Increased development on what are now relatively permeable green spaces, such as Spring Hill in Begbroke will only make matters worse.

Site promoters promise that they will put flood defences in place, but with the frequency and intensity of flooding increasing every year, most defences will eventually be overwhelmed. Developers are also usually more concerned with ensuring new properties don’t flood, with less consideration for the impact of new developments on existing residents.  Areas that may in the past have been flood free will soon find themselves in the firing line with little hope of holding those responsible to account. I made a video about this last year that you can see below

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The Climate Emergency

 

This is THE climate emergency election, and it goes without saying that the Green Party are at the forefront of the fight against climate collapse for decades.

We were warning about the imminent dangers of carbonisation when the other main parties were busy bailing out the bankers.

It was a Green Party councillor who introduced one of the world’s first climate change emergency motions and the first in the UK https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carla_Denyer

It was Caroline Lucas who first proposed the Green New Deal in 2008 only to be ignored by pretty much every other political party until now https://www.carolinelucas.com/latest/caroline-hails-green-new-deal-budget-as-way-out-of-economic-problems

Our policies and proposals on care for the environment and the de-carbonisation of our economy goes far further than those of any other party. We have very ambitious plans and yes they will require a huge investment, both in terms of finance and resources.

But the existential threat to all of us from climate collapse demands urgent and ambitious action. We have 10 years to deal with these issues before we could be at a tipping point. If that happens, whatever we do won’t be enough https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/09/tipping-points-could-exacerbate-climate-crisis-scientists-fear

We have to push forward boldly now to make up for all those years when we did nothing. Where we simply paid lip service to green issues and ticked the environmentalism box without really meaning it.

It’s about more than encouraging solar panels and electric cars. We’re calling for a radical and fundamental re-alignment of our economy and society so that everything we do from now has climate action at its heart.

I believe this is the only way we can ensure that future generations actually have a future.

If you want to protect that future for yourself, your children and their children, a vote for the Greens will send a strong message to government that we are serious about these issues.

Even if you don’t think the Greens can win, a large swing to the Green Party will make the other parties sit up and take notice, like they have already done on so many other issues the Green party have campaigned on for decades.

A Green vote can really make a difference, and we need to start seeing that difference in everything we do.

If not now, when?