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Victims' anger over floods
Upset: Alison Cobb, Charles Gee and Tom Ballance are unhappy with the response of the Environment Agency
Upset: Alison Cobb, Charles Gee and Tom Ballance are unhappy with the response of the Environment Agency

FLOOD victims rounded on the Environment Agency last night during a heated meeting to discuss the fall-out of the disaster.

Homeowners, many of whom are still mopping up from the floods three weeks ago, vented their anger at the meeting in the King's Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford.

Many felt the agency had not listened to warnings and neglected its duty to maintain streams around the Thames.

Alison Cobb, chairman of the Binsey Residents' Association, dubbed the surgery a "PR stunt" and said the money would be better spent on flood defences.

She said: "We have been disgracefully ignored for years and every time it floods they hold one of these nice PR meetings.

"They say, 'it was not our fault, there was too much rain, I am afraid the water just came'... I feel like punching them.

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"Look at all the money that is being spent on this event, on hiring this hall and having all this staff present to answer questions.

"If the same money was spent on hiring a few chaps with drag lines and chainsaws and diggers, this wouldn't have happened at all."

It was the fourth surgery to be held, following events in Pangbourne, Witney and Abingdon.

Tom Ballance whose business's storage facilities were affected by the flooding, said: "I feel that whatever I say the Environment Agency has an answer to it. It feels like they do not have any money and that we are low down in its priority."

Charles Gee, whose pick-your-own business at Medley Manor Farm in Binsey was badly affected, said had river banks been repaired below Godstow lock they would not have been so badly affected.

He said: "We were promised three years ago this work would be done, and had that been done we might not have flooded so badly."

Agency west area flood risk manager Geoff Bell said the drainage and maintenance issues raised had not contributed to the recent flooding.

He said: "You cannot get all the water we had into these streams. It can help in a smallish event, but that is not what we had.

"The rivers have lovely habitats and wildlife and to dredge and maintain the rivers in the way it was done 40 years ago, we know it does not work.

"What we aim to gain from this surgery is to take away valuable information we will be able to put to effective use."

9:00am today

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Posted by: av, oxford on 12:42pm today
Comes down to money, are the water authority now owned now by shareholders, now they wouldnt want to do their job properly and keep waterways in good condition would they .... less money to return to those shareholders.
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