Farmer furious after FOI request reveals "waste" of taxpayers' cash after floods (From Salisbury Journal)
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Farmer furious after FOI request reveals "waste" of taxpayers' cash after floods
A FARMER in Ringwood is furious after discovering that three agencies spent more than £100,000 of taxpayers’ money on equipment to pump out foul drainage, water and clean-up sewerage in Ringwood between December 2013 and March 2014.
Richard Pierson used a Freedom of Information request (FOI) to find out that the cash-strapped Hampshire County Council spent £79,471 to pump out foul drainage to keep Bickerley Green Residential Home functioning, while the Environment Agency spent an additional £7,560 in dealing with the flood event in the Bickerley area and Wessex Water spent £14,250 for cleaning-up in the same patch.
Flooding affected Kingsburys Lane and parts of the Bickerley last year, with householders wading through waste water to reach their homes and placing sandbags at the entrances.
Tankers were deployed last Christmas to pump out foul waste at the Bickerley Green Nursing Home twice a day, because the toilets were unable to flush.
Wessex Water has committed to a £2million sewerage improvement scheme to upsize or duplicate the sewers, which is planned to be completed by 2016.
But Mr Pierson said the scheme should be put in place sooner to save taxpayers’ money.
He said: “I completely understand the reason why these agencies had to spend this money. We cannot leave elderly people walking in waste, gone are the days of bucket and chuck it.
“However, Wessex Water want to bring the scheme forward, otherwise we will have the same problem this year and next with agencies spending thousands of taxpayers’ money in these hard, economic times. This is a waste of everybody’s money.
“We have to bring the scheme forward. We cannot have elderly people living in fear of being evacuated or bringing in a tanker in everyday to remove waste. This is 2014.”
Wessex Water sewerage planning manager David Martin said: “Delivering a multimillion pound flood alleviation scheme is complex. There are many processes we have to go through to provide adequate protection. We regularly update the town council with progress on this major scheme, which is programmed for construction next year.
“In the meantime, we have removed a significant source of surface water inflow that was found to be entering our foul sewer. This has reduced flood risk by 20 per cent.”
Mr Martin added: “In the unlikely event that flooding recurs next winter due to heavy rainfall, we anticipate that we may need to spend more money in mitigating measures.”
Councillor Woodward, executive member for economy, transport and environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “Following the wettest winter for 250 years and the effect full rivers, rising groundwater and heavy rainfall had in Hampshire, we are working closely with all interested parties to try to deal with repairs and invest in additional flood mitigation measures.
"We welcome the planned investments by the water companies and the Environment Agency alongside our own and our district council partners’ programmes to tackle issues across the county.
"A number of flood mitigation schemes have been submitted to the Environment Agency for Government grant funding, and decisions should be known later in the year. The various council and Environment Agency schemes are subject to available funding and will need to be carefully prioritised as resources dictate.”
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