Meeting documents

Venue: Mezzanine Room 2, County Hall, Aylesbury. View directions

Contact: Kelly Sutherland 

Note: Please note that this meeting will be webcast - please use the "Webcasts" menu link. 


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Note No. Item



Apologies for Absence

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Apologies were received from Mrs Lesley Clarke OBE.


Declarations of Interest

To disclose any personal or disclosable pecuniary interests.

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David Carroll and Tim Butcher declared an interest as members whose divisions had suffered from flooding in 2013-14.  In addition Phil Gomm declared an interest as a member of the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 189 KB

Of the meeting held on 21st July 2015.

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The minutes of the meeting held on 21st July 2015 were confirmed as a correct record. 


Flooding in Bucks 2013-14: Lessons Learned - Evidence Session with residents pdf icon PDF 5 MB

The Committee will be hearing from representatives from three communities which were impacted by flooding during the Winter of 2013-14. This will be an opportunity for residents to share their experiences with Members and to highlight any particular challenges they faced during the flooding and afterwards.


Hughenden Valley (Wycombe District Council)

Residents from Hughenden Valley will be in attendance.  David Carroll, County Councillor for Ridgeway East is Chairman of the TEC Select Committee.


Marlow (Wycombe District Council)

Richard Scott, County Councillor, District Councillor and Town Councillor for Marlow, and residents from Marlow will be in attendance.


The Willows, Aylesbury (Aylesbury Vale District Council)

Steven Lambert, County Councillor for Aylesbury West, District Councillor and Parish Councillor for Coldharbour and residents from The Willows will be in attendance. 



Location Maps showing roads in Hughenden Valley, Marlow and The Willows which were flooded in 2013-14


Two written submissions from residents in Marlow


Extract of Marlow Community Flood Plan

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The Chairman, David Carroll handed over to Mrs Patricia Birchley, Vice-Chairman explaining that she was leading the Flooding Inquiry and would chair the rest of the meeting.  Mrs Birchley and the rest of the members of the Committee introduced themselves and the Chairman explained that Mrs Karen Fisher, Strategic Flood Management Team Leader, BCC and Mr Simon Dando, Contract Manager, Transport for Buckinghamshire were in attendance should the Committee need any technical advice during the meeting.  The Chairman also advised residents in attendance that some members of the Committee had conducted site visits in Marlow, Hughenden Valley and The Willows.




The Chairman welcomed Mr Richard Scott, County Councillor, District Councillor and Town Councillor for Marlow to the meeting.  Mr Scott gave the Committee a brief overview of the flooding experienced by Marlow residents in early 2014 and highlighted the following issues:

·         Marlow has a history of flooding and in the 1970s houses were built on the flood plain which would not be permitted now. However the scale of the flooding in 2014 was extreme and was caused by a combination of rising river levels and excessive rainfall on ground which was already saturated due to a prolonged period of wet weather.

·         Residents were unsure who to approach for help and some agencies, particularly the Environment Agency and Thames Water, proved very difficult to contact initially and were also slow to respond.

·         The early flood warning system operated by the Environment Agency (EA) which the public can sign up to worked well – Mr Scott confirmed that he had received emails and text messages alerting him to rising river levels.  However it was difficult to get accurate information from the EA once the flooding occurred.

·         Wycombe District Council provided sandbags to Marlow but they disappeared very quickly and were not always being taken by those residents most in need.  Eventually the Police played a role in co-ordinating the distribution of sandbags.

·         There were issues with sewage in low lying areas of Marlow and Thames Water were very slow in addressing this.  Sewage was mixing with the flood water in Higginson Park which caused concern.

·         Bucks Fire and Rescue and the Military did a great job in keeping the water levels stable and were able to bring in pumps from other areas of the UK. The establishment of the Command and Control Centre in Pound Lane was also very helpful as it became a key centre for information and co-ordination of activities.

·         Mr Scott hoped that the Inquiry would mean that lessons learned from the 2014 experience would lead to an improved response if flooding occurred again in future.  He felt that improved communication with residents was important and that agencies needed to co-ordinate much more quickly. The early establishment of a Command and Control Centre would help to facilitate this.  A more controlled distribution of sandbags would also be helpful and practical maintenance of drains and gullies on an ongoing basis was also important.

·         Mr Scott thanked Buckinghamshire County Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.



Chairman's Summing Up

The Chairman will sum up the findings of the morning’s session with residents before the Committee breaks for lunch.  The meeting will reconvene at 1pm.

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The Chairman commented that the Committee had tremendous sympathy for anyone who had suffered during the flooding of 2013-14 and it was clear from residents’ stories that there was a real need for agencies to respond more quickly when local residents raised the alarm.  Whilst the legislation around flooding was complicated and the onus was on the individual householder to protect his property, the relevant agencies needed to co-ordinate better during an emergency and riparian owners needed to play their part in the ongoing maintenance of watercourses, drains and ditches to prevent problems in future. 


The Chairman thanked everyone who had contributed to the morning session.  The meeting was adjourned until 1pm.


The meeting recommenced at 1pm.



Flooding in Bucks 2013-14: Lessons Learned - Evidence Session with partner agencies pdf icon PDF 2 MB

The Committee will be hearing from partner agencies, who will be asked to provide an overview of the wider context of Flooding across the region in 2013-14 and how they managed and prioritised their responses to numerous flood incidents which occurred simultaneously.  Members will have an opportunity to follow up with partners on any issues or concerns raised by residents in the earlier session and to hear about partnership working initiatives which have developed in response to the 2013-14 flood events.


Partner agencies will be asked to share any learning that has resulted from internal reviews they carried out subsequent to the flooding and Members will be able to follow up on any outstanding Section 19 recommendations.




Representatives from the Environment Agency, Berkshire & Buckinghamshire region


Mr Huw Thomas, Local/Regional Government Liaison, Thames Water


Mr Tim Parkins, Performance, Evaluation and Projects Team Leader, Bucks Fire and Rescue


Representatives from the four District Councils – Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe.




Report presented to Aylesbury Vale District Council’s Environment and Living Scrutiny Committee in November 2014, regarding Flooding in The Willows.


S19 Spreadsheet with RAG Status column as requested by the Committee following 21st July meeting. Members are reminded that whilst the Strategic Flood Management Team will continue to follow up on these actions, BCC has no power to enforce recommendations which apply to partner agencies.

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The Chairman advised that the Committee had heard from residents in the morning session and this afternoon would be an opportunity for partner agencies to explain how they managed demand and prioritised their response during the flooding of 2013-14.


The Chairman welcomed Mr Barry Russell, Operations Manager, Environment Agency to the meeting. Mr Russell briefly explained the large area that his team covers, Upper Thames and outlined his history of working for the Environment Agency (EA). Mr Russell was the Lead for the Environment Agency at the Strategic Command Group at Kidlington throughout the flooding of 2013/14.


Mr Russell gave a presentation before taking questions from members. and the following main points were noted:

·         The winter of 2013-14 was the wettest on record with a large number of properties flooded nationally.  157 flood warnings were issued across West Thames, with 14 severe flood warnings across December, January and February. Thresholds have since been reviewed for issuing flood warnings in West Thames as the EA want to be as accurate as possible.

·         1400 properties suffered internal flooding with a further 300 affected by ground water flooding. The EA opened an Emergency Centre and Regional Incident Rooms which were open 24/7. More than 600 staff were working in the incident rooms, as well as operational staff making sure defences were deployed. Field teams were also out checking water levels.

·         The duration of rainfall created further issues that short duration, high intensity rain does not bring, with the soil at saturation point in November 2013.  The ongoing rainfall kept the River Thames at capacity – the highest level it had reached in 65 years.

·         Since the flooding, the EA have participated in internal and partner agency debriefs and the plans of Local Resilience Forums had been updated. The EA had also worked with partners running training days and testing equipment.

·         For The Willows, Aylesbury no flood warning was issued as the watercourse was not one that the EA are responsible for. The EA have supported the work of The Willows Flood Group and have worked in partnership with BCC, AVDC and residents. AVDC have stepped up their riparian responsibilities and regularly inspect the waterway and the newly fitted trash screen on the Stoke Brook is on the EA’s fortnightly inspection schedule.

·         The EA have supported the work of the Hughenden Valley DIG and have undertaken an initial assessment of the top of the Hughenden Stream.

·         In Marlow, partnership working was taking place across Local Authorities in respect of the Marlow Flood Alleviation Scheme which would protect 287 properties. Preliminary works had taken place at Gossmore Lane raising the road to keep planning permission current whilst further discussions with landowners and an archaeological and ecological survey take place.

·         The Chairman asked how the EA could react more quickly to warnings from residents on the ground.  Mr Russell explained that a lot of work had been done with the Local Resilience Forum to try and improve multi-agency response.  The EA work with flood action groups  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.



Date of the Next Meeting

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 14th October 2015 at 10am in Mezzanine Room 2, County Hall, Aylesbury.  There will be a pre-meeting for members at 9.30am.

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The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 14th November 2015 at 10am in Mezzanine Room 2, County Hall, Aylesbury. There will be a pre-meeting for Committee Members at 9.30am.