Up to 60 Billing Aquadrome residents expected to spend the night at Northampton leisure centre

Lings Forum
Lings Forum

Up to 60 people evacuated from Billing Aquadrome today are expected to stay overnight at Lings Forum Leisure Centre, emergency planners have confirmed.

There were 650 people evacuated from the holiday park this morning as a result of flooding, fewer than the 1,000 initially estimated, and the 3,000 who were forced to leave after the floods in May.

Displaced families were initially transferred to the Salvation Army building in Penistone Road, Lumbertubs, Northampton, before being moved to Lings this evening.

Jo Maddams, emergency planning officer for Northamptonshire County Council, said a number of groups were involved in the operation, including police, the Salvation Army, St John Ambulance and the Red Cross.

She said: “It is a place of safety away from the flooding, providing warmth, food and emotional support.

“Obviously we don’t know how long they are going to be here. But in May it was four or five days, and we can’t let it be that long again.”

Northampton Borough Council leader, Councillor David Mackintosh (Con, Rectory Farm), said: “If people are displaced, our housing team come and work with people who are particularly vulnerable and look to rehome them.

“For the people at Billing Aquadrome, it is the second time it has happened this year, and it is important we engage with them, show our support and resilience.”

Geoffrey Morrell, aged 60, was evacuated from his boat at Billing, along with wife Pauline and dog Fred.

He said: “I woke up about 9.30am as police were already warning people they may have to evacuate us as well as the caravans.

“We have been here since 11.30am. Luckily my son lives in Milton Keynes and we will be staying with him tonight. It was the dog I was most worried about! The people here have treated us so well.”

Paul Chapman, aged 56, was also evacuated from a boat, with wife Pat. He only moved to Billing in August.

He said: “We knew it can have a problem with flooding, but we didn’t know it was as bad as this. We have booked into a hotel for the night.”

Another boat owner, David Wood, aged 70, also praised the efforts of the volunteers at the Salvation Army centre.

He said: “They have done a fantastic job. Very good. We can go and help ourselves to tea and coffee, there have been sandwiches and we are getting a meal at 6pm.”

Although Northampton Borough Council owns Lings Forum, it is only involved in a supporting role.

The authority’s main involvement would come with any clean-up operation which is needed, such as the one with the major floods in 1998.

In emergencies such as this, the county council leads the response team, working with police and the Environment Agency.

They set up reception centres for people who have been displaced, and run them until they are no longer needed.

The county council has a number of venues already identified in the event of a reception centre being needed.