Penarthians urged to make plans to combat flooding

Penarth Times: FLOODED: The Esplanade was recently flooded during high tides and heavy rain (5361476) FLOODED: The Esplanade was recently flooded during high tides and heavy rain (5361476)

AN EMERGENCY planning expert has encouraged Penarth residents to set up ‘community action plans’ in a bid to tackle flooding across the town.

Dafydd Thomas, the emergency planning officer for the Vale Council, said during a presentation to Penarth Town Council that dealing with flooding across the whole Vale was “almost impossible” and that communities within Penarth should formulate their own action plans to tackle collections of surface water.

He said that he had tried to develop a flood action plan for Penarth over four weeks but “couldn’t figure out a way of doing such a disperse area” and “it was almost a case of dealing with all of those separately”.

He said that this is where community action plans would come into use.

Mr Thomas, who is responsible for formulating major incident, respite, recovery and chemical site plans for the Vale Council, said that all emergency services work well together but “don’t work well with local communities as well as we should and we have to prepare plans”.

Mr Thomas, speaking during a town council policy and finance committee meeting on Wednesday, April 9, said during issues such as flooding communities should have their own resilience plans after conducting risk assessments in their own areas.

“Some communities can get left behind as they are not top of the list and they need to be resilient themselves,” he said.

“What would be fantastic is if those community groups already existed.”

He added: “Emergency planning isn’t just the bigger picture, it is the individual people and those are the people that we need to look at. We want to encourage people to get into the community and to develop a resilience plan for your street, borough or area."

He said that communities could be given emergency contacts and assess their own local risks.

Councillor Michael Cuddy, chairman of the policy and finance committee meeting, said that the council attends a community liaison committee and that they would raise the issue at the next meeting. He added that there were already a couple of plans in Penarth and that they would be willing to take his advice on board.

Councillor Anthony Ernest, who had requested that Mr Thomas attend the meeting to give a presentation, said that communities in Usk had put together similar plans to deal with flooding and had all the information about who they needed to contact.

Councillor Clive Williams, who represents the Plymouth ward, said that in his 32 years as a councillor he had learnt that whenever there was flooding there was never a “focal point” and “it’s always the other person” from the Vale Council highways department that deals with the issue.

“Everyone always says we haven’t got the budget or it’s not our department its someone else’s,” he said.

“I note what you are trying to do but we have got to be aware of those issues.”

He added that clearing blocked drains on roads such as Lavernock Road more regularly then problems such as flooding wouldn’t be as bad.

Dafydd Thomas said that with all local flood plans they would find out what caused it and local knowledge would help. He added that sandbags were a “contentious issue” as they eventually absorb water that comes through into the house and “they fall apart so easily”.

Councillor Martin Turner, who represents the Plymouth ward, said that a risk assessment exercise should be carried out.

The matter will now be raised at the next community liaison meeting and there will also be a trial desk exercise into Penarth's use of community action plans.

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