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The Jubilee River story - Cheltenham - 25m flood work failed

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09:00 - 22 September 2007

Cheltenham's 25 million flood defence scheme failed when it was most needed, officials have admitted.

Flaws in the system from Cox's Meadow to Princess Elizabeth Way have been highlighted in the first review of this summer's floods.

The report said some flooding of houses would have been inevitable as the summer deluge was a 1 in 120 year event - much more than the system could cope with.

But consultants Halcrow say blocked flood defences were the direct cause of flooding in some parts of the town.

Fences along the river let rubbish pile up and made flooding worse in parts of the town.

Screens designed to keep culverts clear were broken or became blocked.

In Little Bayshill Terrace, Keynshambury Road and parts of College Road, blocked culverts, intended to divert the excess water, actually caused the flooding.

Now Halcrow are recommending changes in the system to stop the problem recurring

But they have warned that making the river flood-proof and safe for children could mean large, ugly defences.

Both culvert screens and fences have narrower railings than is recommended to stop children climbing through them.

Halcrow says the only way of solving the problem may be to put up walls or screens instead.

The report says: "During the course of the flood defence works the old railings along the edge of Sandford Park were replaced with new steel vertical bar railings.

"During both the flood events a significant amount of plant material and debris was pushed against the railings and blocked the lower sections.

"The effect of the debris was to artificially raise the water levels.

"This was a significant additional depth of water and resulted in flooding in properties in Keynshambury Road."

The report concludes: "The issues are generally related to the debris in the floodwater blocking screens and railings in isolated areas."

It recommends railings in Sandford Park should be removed or modified and the S-bend in the river at Synagogue Lane removed.

Culverts need new, wider railings and, in some places, large walls around them.

During the June 25 floods many people living near Sandford Park reported water rushing past the bund in Cox's Meadow instead of into it. But the report said the scheme did work in some areas.

It said: "It's clear the scheme prevented a significant number of properties from flooding over and above those which did experience inundation.

"But certain elements of the scheme didn't operate as expected and a number of improvements to reduce the risk of this reoccurring are recommended."

Residents will be able to quiz representatives from the EA on the report at a meeting today at the Pillar Room at Cheltenham Town Hall from 11am to 3pm.

To read the report, go to  (Sorry - link no longer supported)

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