Royal Borough Council criticised over River Thames Scheme

Extract from Windsor Observer 1-4-2020

Royal Borough Council criticised over River Thames Scheme

By James Bagley – Local Democracy Reporter       1 – 4 – 2020

“IT’S a good day to issue bad news” said a councillor who has scolded the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council (RBWM) for not funding the flood defence scheme.

The River Thames scheme was set to protect up to 15,000 homes in areas including Datchet and Teddington to reduce the flood risk where three new flood channels would be constructed.

RBWM released an update on Monday explaining where the council is at with the plans which councillor Ewan Larcombe (Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) from the National Flood Prevention Party called “a typical” statement.

A spokeswoman from RBWM said: “We and the River Thames Scheme are committed to seeing the fruition of the whole of the scheme and we are pleased that the outline business case will continue to feature the Berkshire section of the scheme.

“Currently, funding for the Berkshire scheme has not be resolved but we will continue to work with the River Thames Scheme to identify funding for this part of the scheme in the future.”

Councillor Larcombe has hit out against the council demanding them to “get their act together” as the £640 million flood defence scheme was meant to be already fully funded with work commencing in 2023 at the earliest.

He said: “The council has filibustered for months and I don’t think they’ve been honest and open about what the situation is.

“They kept saying that they agreed it all back in September/October 2017, but what have they done since?

“They had years and years to fix this situation and they certainly haven’t kept me informed. I believe that I’ve been deliberately kept in the dark.”

On February 2020, councillor Larcombe warned Tory cabinet members that the cost of the scheme could go up by £1 million a week if the council’s contribution isn’t completed.

Surrey County Council secured £237 million on their part of the scheme back last November whereas RBWM has only put in £10 million out of its £52.66 million contribution.

A spokesperson from the Royal Borough said they can only put in their full part if government allowed local authorities a flood precept on council tax like the adult social care precept.

Datchet and surrounding areas were heavily flooded back in 2014 where approximately 1,000 homes were affected.

Local link to  The RBWM Press Release dated 30/3/2020