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Dear Sir Philip.............

Dear Sir Philip

As the new Chairman of the Environment Agency I think you should be aware of the situation that still exists in the flooded communities following the devastating floods earlier this year.

The vast majority of the residents of Datchet, Wraysbury and Old Windsor and also residents further downstream are horrified with what happened last winter and most will say that IF THE JUBILEE RIVER HAD NOT BEEN BUILT WE WOULD NOT HAVE FLOODED.  It is clear that the JUBILEE RIVER did its job to protect Maidenhead and Windsor but at huge damage to the communities downstream of Black Potts. 

What do you intend to do to make sure that the JUBILEE RIVER DOES NOT HAVE A DETRIMENTAL EFFECT ON DOWNSTREAM COMMUNITIES IN THE FUTURE?  In February 2014 the water level at Boulters Lock was like it would be on a summer’s day whilst downstream communities were drowned with Princes William and Harry doing their best to stop them drowning further.

Below is an extract from one of the local papers regarding a family still out of their home and following that is a Press Release from ThamesAwash regarding my own personal situation.  At the present time we are not sure whether we will ever be able to move back into our once beautiful, idyllic home. 

As incoming Chairman we would like to know what measures you intend to take with regard to the operation of the JUBILEE RIVER so that this situation does not occur again. 

Yours sincerely

Gillie Bolton (Mrs)

 

Extract from Windsor Express - Sat 27 September 2014 - by Francis Batt

Couple still living in front garden six months after floods

A couple are still living in their front garden more than six months after February's devastating floods wrecked their home of 50 years.

Keith Huckle, 79 and his wife Jane, 76, of Ouseley Road, Wraysbury are now in a cramped mobile home parked in front of their house - paid for by their insurance company.

The ground floor rooms of their home are bare with all the floorboards gone following the damage caused by the rising water.

Mr Huckle said: "We don't know what to do. Neither of us is very well. "My wife is still tending the garden which has been helping and the neighbours have been wonderful. But we are dreading the winter."

Mr Huckle added: "We have arguments but you can't avoid that when you are in a confined space together for six months.  He fears he and his wife may have to leave the village.  A recent report by a surveyor brought little comfort. The house may have to be rebuilt.

"When we first saw the house 50 years ago it was a cold and rainy night and the road was a dirt track. But when we saw the garden and the patio inside we knew we wanted it to be our home," he said.

Mr Huckle says his biggest mistake was arranging for initial repair work to be carried out by a company from outside the area, whose van turned up in the village soon after the floods.  He was not satisfied with the work done and the subsequent wrangle has caused unwelcome delays.

Wraysbury's flood warden Dave Francis said: "There are still 31 people in the village unable to live in their homes.

"We are all rallying round to look after them as best we can."

 Source http://www.windsorexpress.co.uk/News/Areas/Wraysbury/Couple-still-living-in-front-garden-six-months-after-floods-26092014.htm

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

Press Release from “ThamesAwash” 19/09/14

 

ThamesAwash StressesTragedy

Of Forgotten Flood Victims Eight Months On

Eight months on, most of those forced out of their house by flooding are still unable to return home.

For the majority of those flooded in January and February 2014 and forced out of their homes, the nightmare is still a reality that affects them daily.  Bureaucratic Council officials, obdurate insurance companies and red tape have combined to prevent effective and rapid action to help flood victims return to their homes whilst little or no real progress has been made to ensure that the long term solution to flooding in the Lower Thames (the River Thames Scheme) is funded.

Stories from Ham Island, Old Windsor, Berkshire – Flood victims still out of their homes……….

On Ham Island, several houses were flooded, three of which resulted in evacuation and those households are still unable to return.  Flood wardens Gillie and Jim’s nightmare still continues.  With Jim in hospital recovering from surgery, Gillie had to abandon their home and they have been forced to move three times to different rented accommodation whilst their insurance company has taken over 7 months to “assess” the damage to their home.  In this time, their once beautiful lockside house has been wrecked whilst engineers try to determine the extent of the damage – floors have been taken up, walls have been removed, ceilings taken down and foundations dug up.

No choice but to rebuild – but no funds to afford it

The structural engineer’s report indicates that Gillie and Jimmie’s house needs to be re-built but the Local Authority will only allow this if the house is re-built at least a metre higher.  However, the Insurance Company will only fund the reinstatement of Gillie and Jimmie’s current house which means that they would have to find the extra money.  As pensioners in their 60s and 70s, this is something that they cannot afford; and so, the nightmare continues.  Why should they after all they have been through battle with the insurance company to find a solution?  What does the future hold for them?

Zara’s Story - Flooded in Pooley Green, Egham Hythe, Surrey & still homeless...

On 14th February, Zara called her local council to say that water was coming into her house, coming over the door, and seeping in through her floor boards.  Eventually, an evacuation team arrived and she had to explain to her two young sons that they had to leave their home, their toys and treasured things to meet an uncertain future. 

With no civil emergency contingency plan in place, this consisted of an offer from an hotelier for shelter in an hotel which had been closed for refurbishment.  The three of them were offered a single room in the hotel with a bathroom and no play area for the children.  There was no assessment of the suitability of the accommodation for Zara and her two young children.  Every day, Zara faced a 40mile return trip to get her son Sam to school.  After 4 weeks of this, she was offered different temporary accommodation at another hotel – but this time, the nearest parking for the car was a mile away!  Since then, Zara has had to move a further three times and finally to more temporary accommodation in Chertsey where at last she thought she could re-establish a more normal life. 

However, the Council have told her that she will have to return to her flat in Pooley Green.  The only catch is that her home is still boarded up and the Council have no idea when they will start the repairs.  Zara has heard rumours that the Council do not intend to do this until we are through the next winter in case the flooding starts all over again…  In the meantime, Zara is still faced with paying standing charges for the electricity and gas at her old flat which she has not been able to live in since February.

Just 7 months left to fund the permanent solution for flooding

Gillie, Jimmie and Zara’s situation are just two stories amongst hundreds of tragic human stories that can be told.  The economic impact for the region is equally serious with thousands of work days lost with each flood event as a result of flooding to roads and railway.

The reality is that the flooding we experienced this year is going to get worse and happen more often unless something is done.

The permanent solution for flooding in the Lower Thames Valley, the River Thames Scheme, has been designed, approved and only awaits a commitment to its funding.

Central government has committed £136m of the £256m required within the current funding round.  The rest needs to be agreed by the 7 Local Authorities whose constituents are affected.  If this is not agreed before the next election, the prospect of this permanent solution being implemented within the next 30 years will disappear.

The lower Thames Valley has the highest number and value of homes, businesses and public infrastructure unprotected and at threat from flooding in the whole of the United Kingdom.  All those threatened need to lobby their local Councils to support partnership funding for the River Thames Scheme.  Whether we fix flooding for good in the Lower Thames Valley really is at stake right now.

 If you would like to let Sir Philip know what is (or is not) happening in your area his e-mail address is Philip.Dilley@environment-agency.gov.uk