Villagers want to see action after floods

PUBLISHED: 08:11 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 21:41 31 May 2010

Dave Croft during the floods in Steeple Bumpstead last week	Picture: ALISTAIR NELSON

Dave Croft during the floods in Steeple Bumpstead last week Picture: ALISTAIR NELSON

STEEPLE Bumpstead residents have reiterated the need for a lagoon to be built close to the village following the latest bout of floods. The village, which badly flooded in 2001 and 2007, was one of the worst hit in the Reporter s patch as a month s worth

STEEPLE Bumpstead residents have reiterated the need for a lagoon to be built close to the village following the latest bout of floods.

The village, which badly flooded in 2001 and 2007, was one of the worst hit in the Reporter's patch as a month's worth of rainfall fell in a 10-hour period overnight last Monday.

Although the property damage was relatively low - only one kitchen and one garage flooded - the water came to within six inches of resident's front doors. Twelve people had to be saved from their cars by police after a road disappeared under water.

Chairman of the Steeple Bumpstead Flood Action Committee, Dave Croft, said the village had survived a "miraculous escape".

But he added: "What happened only serves to remind us that there is a need for some action here.

"The emotional turmoil and levels of anxiety are so high, not just when it floods but pretty much every time it rains. You can't put a cash amount on that. It damages people's lives."

The committee is in advanced talks with the relevant agencies, including the Environment Agency (EA) and Essex County Council (ECC), about the possibility of a lagoon being built a few miles away - between the village and Little Smiths Green Farm - to hold flood water.

Jim Warner, asset systems management team leader for EA Essex, said that the agency is compiling a report to demonstrate a cost benefit of the scheme. He added that he is "moderately confident" the scheme - which would cost around £250,000 based on preliminary report - would then be approved when it goes before the agency's project appraisal board in June.

Essex County Council is also playing its part and will be making a contribution of around £50,000 towards the scheme.

Cllr David Finch, county member for Headingham division, said: "The council is obviously concerned about the welfare and safety of the residents and we will be continuing to collaborate with the Environment Agency in bringing about the necessary flood defences for Steeple Bumpstead."

The village is a flood risk area because two streams of water, from Hempstead and Helions Bumpstead, meet in the village.

However, the lagoon would work by acting on a traffic light-like system; the Hempstead stream would be shut off and redirected to the lagoon, allowing the Helions stream to run free through the village. When the water subsides the streams continue to run as usual.

Mr Croft said: "Although talks are advanced, the deal is not yet done. But the relevant agencies have been very accommodating and we are cautiously optimistic that it will happen.

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