THE AGENDA for the RBWM Council Meeting on 27/4/2021 can be found here
THE RBWM SUPPORTING REPORT can be found here
THE PETITION (as extracted from the report)
An e-petition seeking additional funding of the River Thames Scheme has been
received and contains 1,591 signatures. The petition asks that “The Council honours
its commitment to partnership funding of the River Thames Scheme”.
The petition provides further detail to ask:
“It is understood that RBWM has decided to consult with the EA to provide cheaper
and ultimately less effective methods to protect the residents of Datchet, Old Windsor,
Wraysbury and Horton from flooding as it has failed to secure the £43 million necessary
to complete channel 1 of the RTS scheme. The residents of this area of the Borough
deserve the same protection afforded to Windsor, Eton and Maidenhead since the
completion of the Jubilee River nearly 2 decades ago. During those 2 decades this
area and its residents have endured flooding on 3 separate occasions and have been
repeatedly assured of future protection. We urge the Borough to seek alternative
Partnership funding arrangements since the Government refused legislation changes
to permit the Borough to raise the funds by means of a flood levy. The £10 million
allocated in the RBWM budget for the RTS should not be squandered on second rate
scheme defences. Working in partnership is important to the success of the RTS in its
entirety. A high level Sponsoring Group and a programme Board are in place to
oversee the delivery of the scheme; how can the scheme be successful if only 2 of the
3 proposed main channels are completed?”
THE RBWM REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS:
That Council notes the report and:
i) Reaffirms the commitment to delivering additional flood defence
schemes for affected communities, but sadly recognises that the
Council cannot fund Channel 1 as planned without flexibility over
Council Tax or significant additional external funding;
ii) Reaffirms its commitment to continue to work with the Environment
Agency and other partners to maximise the benefits of its £10 million
iii) Notes that further enhancements would be possible should further
external funding be provided.
My Statement as presented at RBWM Council Meeting 27/4/2021
THANK YOU MR MAYOR. FIRSTLY I MUST DECLARE THAT I AM THE OWNER OF LAND AND BUILDINGS IN MY WARD. DUE TO TIME CONSTRAINTS I WILL GIVE A CONDENSED VERSION OF MY SUBMISSION TO THIS MEETING AND THEN PUBLISH IT IN FULL AFTER THE EVENT.
I MUST THANK AND CONGRATULATE THE CHAIR OF WRAYSBURY PARISH COUNCIL – COUNCILLOR MRS LENTON – ON ACHIEVING THE 1,500 NAMES REQUIRED TO GET THE RIVER THAMES SCHEME PETITION CONSIDERED HERE. I MUST ALSO THANK THOSE PEOPLE WHO ADDED THEIR NAMES.
WHEN I WAS ELECTED TO THIS COUNCIL IN MAY 2019 I THOUGHT MY OBJECTIVE HERE WAS SIMPLY TO SEE THAT THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY DID THE RIGHT JOB RIGHT THIS TIME? I WAS UNAWARE THAT THE PROJECT WAS ALREADY FATALLY FLAWED.
I AM CONCERNED THAT AN ORCHESTRATED NARRATIVE IS BEING USED TO CAMOUFLAGE WHAT HAS ACTUALLY OCCURRED. I HAVE EVIDENCE THAT THERE WERE DOUBTS ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP FUNDING OVER FOUR YEARS AGO.
I HAVE SOME CONCERNS ABOUT CLLR HILTONS REPORT (AGENDA ITEM 6). SECTION 2.3 ON PAGE 81 THIRD PARAGRAPH DOWN REFERS TO ‘THE CHANNEL WILL BE BUILT IN THREE SECTIONS’ BUT SURELY THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE.
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT AND LONG STANDING PROPOSAL THAT NOW EXPOSES THE NON-AVAILABILITY OF A £50M PARTNERSHIP FUNDING CONTRIBUTION FROM RBWM TOWARDS A £640M FLOOD ALLEVIATION PROJECT THAT COULD AND SHOULD HAVE BENEFITTED MANY THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE AT RISK OF FLOODING DOWNSTREAM OF WINDSOR. AS A DESIGNATED NATIONALLY SIGNIFICANT INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT REQUIRING A DEVELOPMENT CONSENT ORDER – THE RIVER THAMES SCHEME HAS JUST LOST A SIGNIFICANT ELEMENT OF THE PROGRAMME.
MR MAYOR – THE PEOPLE OF MY WARD AND ELSEWHERE HAVE BEEN SOLD DOWN THE RIVER WHILE THE PEOPLE OF MAIDENHEAD, WINDSOR AND ETON HAVE ALREADY BENEFITTED FROM THE CONSTRUCTION OF THEIR FLOOD ALLEVIATION SCHEME THAT WAS COMPLETED IN 2002.
THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY ORGANISED A ‘SPONSORING GROUP’ MADE UP OF COUNCILLORS AND OFFICERS ATTENDING MEETINGS IN ORDER TO PUT THE RIVER THAMES SCHEME FUNDING ARRANGEMENTS IN PLACE. I REQUESTED COPIES OF AGENDAS AND MINUTES LATE LAST YEAR.
I AM NOT SURE WHEN THE FIRST MEETING WAS BUT I DO KNOW THAT AT A RIVER THAMES SCHEME (DATCHET TO TEDDINGTON) SPONSORING GROUP MEETING HELD ON 22 JUNE 2017 AT THE THAMES SUITE, WINDSOR LEISURE CENTRE THERE WAS NOT ONE SINGLE RBWM COUNCILLOR OR OFFICER IN ATTENDANCE. THE MINUTES RECORD THAT RBWM HAD ALREADY INDICATED THEY WOULD BE ‘UNABLE TO COMMIT A CONTRIBUTION AT THIS STAGE’ AND THAT THE SPONSORING GROUP WERE ALREADY PREPARING A PLAN B.
[You can read the 22/6/2017 Sponsoring Group Minutes here http://flooding.london/rts/ea-sponsoring-group-meeting-22-6-2017/]
CLEARLY THERE WERE DOUBTS ABOUT THE PROJECT FUNDING EVEN THEN.
MR MAYOR – IT APPEARS THAT THE ATTENDEES AT THIS MEETING ALREADY KNEW WHAT WAS COMING AND THAT’S NEARLY FOUR YEARS AGO.
MR MAYOR – IN MY OPINION THIS IS NOT A COVID RELATED PROBLEM. AFTER THE CIPFA REPORT THE NEW COUNCIL LEADER APOLOGISED AND PROMISED A NEW ERA OF HONESTY, OPENNESS AND TRANSPARENCY – OH – AND COLLEGIATE WORKING. I AM STILL WAITING.
IN CONCLUSION MR MAYOR – I HAVE THREE QUESTIONS AS FOLLOWS:
1) WHEN DID COUNCILLORS FIRST KNOW ABOUT THE NEED FOR THE £50M PARTNERSHIP FUNDING CONTRIBUTION?
2) WHEN DID RBWM ACTUALLY CONSIDER (AND RESOLVE AGAINST FUNDING) THE £50M PARTNERSHIP CONTRIBUTION?
3) WHAT IS THIS COUNCIL GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS PROBLEM AND WHEN?
THANK YOU MR MAYOR – I WILL NOW PREPARE MY SUBMISSION FOR THE PLANNING INSPECTORATE AND THEN WAIT PATIENTLY FOR THE NEXT ELECTION
You can read the 22/6/2017 Sponsoring Group Minutes here http://flooding.london/rts/ea-sponsoring-group-meeting-22-6-2017/
THE DEBATE AND VOTING
The RTS partnership funding issue voting was complex (confusing?) because the RBWM controlling group constructed the recommendations to undermine and negate the petitioners request.
Thus a vote ‘for’ the recommendations was in fact ‘against’ the objective of the petition and a vote ‘against’ was in support of the petition rather than the recommendations.
The vote was 19 in favour of the recommendations and 18 against – with two abstentions (Ward Cllrs Cannon and Muir)
For anybody interested – this is the link to the RBWM Council Meeting 27/4/2021 YouTube video
The debate starts at 31.40 with an introduction from the Mayor, the Officer and then Mrs Lenton and finishes after the voting at about 1.26.00