Council defends Northampton area's exclusion from £6.2m government-funded anti-flooding project

Councillor 'disappointed' ward was not part of scheme but cabinet member insists it will be supported

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 8:53 am
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 9:38 am

The council has defended the £6.2 million project to support certain communities in Northamptonshire affected by flooding after criticism for not including Far Cotton.

Labour councillor Emma Roberts was disappointed not to see Far Cotton included in the Flood Resilience Project agreed by West Northamptonshire Council on Tuesday (September 14).

The government-funded scheme is for the areas around Wootton Brook in Northampton and Harpers Brook between Corby and Thrapston.

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Flooding at Collingtree Park Golf Club in 2016

Cabinet member for environment, Phil Larratt, insisted Far Cotton would be getting support to reduce the flood risk but this scheme was for places that would otherwise not get any help.

“The Flood Resilience Project is funded by central government and came with the caveat that it could not be used to supplement existing work, or fund capital schemes which would otherwise be funded by ‘grant in aid’," he said.

“We know people living in Far Cotton, and businesses in the area, have been hard hit in the past. We’re already assessing possible options to reduce the flood risk in the area.

"Exploratory work has been carried out and we will report back on our findings there in due course.

“Wootton Brook on the other hand has already received a significant amount of exploratory work in the past which has demonstrated it would not be eligible for 'grant in aid' funding which could reduce the risk of flooding – so it was ideal for testing this new, innovative approach.

"Harpers Brook has similarly been unable to secure grant in aid funding in the past, despite the history of flooding, so was also a good candidate.

“It is hoped that the learning from this project will help devise solutions not only for the areas we’re focusing on but that the results will help assess the effectiveness of measures we might consider for other flood hit locations in the future.”

Northamptonshire County Council originally bid for £6.2 million for Wootton Brook and Harpers Brook through the Environment Agency's £200 million Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Project.

Of 358 reports of flooding across the two areas since detailed records started in 2012, 237 were for the Wootton Brook area, which includes Collingtree, Wootton, East and West Hunsbury, Hunsbury Meadows and Hackleton.

West Northamptonshire Council will manage the project, on behalf of North Northamptonshire Council, which will engage with landowners and residents to implement a series of measures and assess their effectiveness.

But Councillor Roberts was disappointed Far Cotton and Briar Hill were not included in the scheme after numerous floods in recent years and previous 'promises' for support which have yet to come to fruition.

"The report is great and the concept is great but I'm disappointed there's an area missing from the report," she told the meeting.

"I believe promises have been made through LLFA visits that lead them to believe they were going to get a slice of this pie and it would appear Far Cotton is not going to get a slice of this pie."

Councillor Larratt explained the Flood Resilience Project is not designed to reduce the risk of flooding but to make people better equipped to deal with it.

Councillor Pinder Chauhan said Far Cotton and Briar Hill could be recommended for other grants that the areas around Wootton Brook would not qualify for.

"This community has never, ever received any kind of funding or grants to alleviate flooding but they have been impacted a lot of times," she said.

"So we had to look at a way they could actually get some funding and the only way was through flood alleviation projects so this is probably the only kind of funding they will ever get."