Living in a low lying, coastal community the risks posed by flooding are only too clear. In recent years we have seen significant investment in our sea defences. protecting thousands of homes and businesses in Lytham and Ansdell. The next phase of works, at St Annes, has received £10m of Government funding and Fylde Council is pressing ahead with the plans, which will also help drive regeneration in the town.
But away from the coast there remain challenges. In our towns and villages surface water flooding remains a significant issue and one which I know must be tackled. We are seeing more frequent incidents where heavy rain causes flooding on roads, in properties and across farmland. New developments, around Warton, Freckleton and Wrea Green in particular, have changed the landscape and I am aware of the concerns of people in Fylde over the risk of flooding to homes and businesses.
Investment in the pumping station at East Lytham has helped protect properties in that area but I know more must be done. There is a need for a clear plan and for investment, to ensure our towns, villages and rural communities have the best protections in place.
- Understanding how watercourses work to protect homes, businesses and communities across Fylde
- Delivering a comprehensive database of ownership and responsibilities to ensure everyone from the Environment Agency to home owners understands their obligations.
- Pressure on developers to ensure new schemes do not cause flooding elsewhere and to ensure surface water attenuation is not only included in every scheme but is adequately maintained upon completion.
- Innovation to ensure surface water is best managed, whether through managed wetlands or better maintenance of existing brooks, dykes, drains and ditches.
The flooding Minister Rebecca Pow visited Fylde back in 2021 and made clear the Government's commitment to support communities and help relieve flooding. I shared with her the experiences of local people and gave those on the front line of tackling flooding in Fylde the chance to share their views.
June 2023 saw countless homes and business affected by flash flooding in these areas, with further flooding in July leaving many local highways impassable and cutting off some communities. These events mirrored the floods seen in August 2020, making it clear that these are not one-off issues and highlight the need for investment to reduce the risk of further incidents.
Local anger is understandable, and I have been out to meet with those affected, seeing for myself the devastation that this has reaped on people’s homes and discussing the issues many have since faced with insurance.
We cannot lose momentum on this topic, and I am determined to hold the agencies responsible to account, demanding an urgent plan to tackle these issues. I have now held two multi-agency meetings, bringing together Lancashire County Council, the Environment Agency, United Utilities and Fylde Borough Council to push them on the specific steps they are taking to fulfil the recommendations made in the report that followed the 2020 flooding incidents. We will be reconvening in the autumn, and I am also conducting site visits with some of these agencies to show them first hand the problems we are facing.
I have also held a series of further meetings with the flooding minister in recent months, particularly in response to recent flooding incidents and I know that she is committed to helping resolve these issues. I followed these up with a letter that explains the situation here in Fylde in more detail, especially around surface water drainage on new build estates and the knock-on impact flooding is having on the value of people’s homes, the affordability of insurance, as well as on residents’ wider wellbeing.