IN THE aftermath of the floods that devastated parts of the south of England this year, Conservative councillors in Paddock Wood signed their own flood charter with MP Greg Clark on Saturday.
Paddock Wood was badly hit by floods this year, with homes destroyed by rising water levels. The flood charter is designed to ensure that preventative action is taken in future, including funding for clearing drainage ditches, improved flood defences, and independent assurance that no new developments will increase the risk of flooding.
It was signed by councillors Elizabeth Thomas, Stanley Ward, Bill Hills and Alex King, from Kent County Council.
Mr Clark said: “The idea came from a conversation with Paddock Wood’s Borough Councillors. This winter showed how vulnerable the area is to flooding and that all agencies need to join their work to give confidence to their residents.
“I have been in close touch with the Environment Agency during the winter floods but this Charter sets out our demands rather than the Environment Agency’s own views. We all hope they will act on the intentions it sets out. The flood charter sets out what should be standard practice for an area like ours.”
Elizabeth Thomas said that those risks could be reduced by regular maintenance, including sweeping leaves to insure that they did not clog drains and cause flooding.
Mrs Thomas said: “We have been in meetings with developers. They know the issues very well. We will continue to meet them but we need to protect our present residents. That is our priority.”
“We need to make sure that the risk is not exacerbated.”
Stanley Ward, former flood warden for Paddock Wood, said: “The problem results from surface water drainage from the heights above the town with the two principal drainage tunnels under the railway filled to capacity, exacerbated by back flooding from the Medway and Teise Rivers. The Upper Medway Internal Drainage Board is responsible for keeping the streams and drainage ditches clear. They have provided an excellent service.
“Due to a number of factors, flooding in Paddock Wood was largely in Lucks Lane and Queen Street North of the railway, a number of other areas were in danger of flooding. Without flood mitigation measures being planned and implemented, large scale development would simply exacerbate Paddock Wood's flood problems.”
John Lambert, who works for Berkeley Strategic, part of the Berkeley Homes group who have proposed to develop affordable homes in Paddock Wood, said that the proposals were unlikely to harm the developments.
“We have been promoting a scheme of 400 homes in Paddock Wood,” he said. “I don’t think that the charter changes anything. As a matter of course we need to demonstrate to everyone that we have put forward ways to reduce the risk of flooding,” he said.