The report was presented by Navtej Tung.
The Chair queried how effective the ‘innovative techniques’ would be in preventing future flood events. Navtej Tung explained that the purpose of the project was to identify how effective these techniques would be. He said that some implemented measures had shown to be effective and there were some measures to be implemented as it required more work with Riparian land owners. The project was currently at a business case scenario and more details would be brought back to committee.
Referring to 3.5 on page 17, Councillor Kerin sought further detail on whether the test cases had been completed yet and asked for a briefing note to update the committee on the test cases. In regards to the action plan, he asked what actions had been completed for the committee to endorse and queried whether there was flood strategy in place before the flooding incidents that had occurred in January 2021. Navtej Tung answered that the test cases were not completed yet and that the service was working with the Enforcement Team to manage these. The next step would be to issue the section 25 process. He said that an update would be shared with a full list of the measures and processes to be implemented. He went on to say that there were processes for flooding issues in place before January 2021 but there had not been many flooding incidents before this time. Since the incidents, it had enabled the service to work better with other council departments to improve the council’s flooding strategy.
Councillor Watson queried the timeline for the action plan. She highlighted concerns of the coming winter season, climate change issues and that parts of Thurrock were at higher risk particularly areas that were on a flood plain. Navtej Tung answered that the timeline was dependent on a number of factors that included resourcing as there was currently one staff member in the Flood Team. Some measures were easily undertaken such as updating the flood information on the Council’s website and some measures would take longer such enforcement processes as it involved legal input. He said that the action plan was constantly reviewed and would ideally be implemented by the end of the year. The biggest challenge was in how to make residents more aware of managing and preventing flood issues. Mat Kiely added that the service was looking at the service’s internal structure to find the resources to support the Flood Team.
Councillor Snell queried the process that followed a flooding report from residents and the contact number for flooding reports. Navtej Tung said that the Highways Team would provide sandbags to reported flood issues for immediate protection. He explained that the protection of the home would be the responsibility of the homeowner. He stated that the improvement on the website would provide a number to call for these sandbags and to report flood issues.
The Chair invited Councillor Hebb to speak as the Ward Councillor for Stanford-le-Hope West where most of the flooding incidents in January 2021 had occurred. Councillor Hebb thanked officers for the report and the discussion that had taken place which had given context to the flooding issues. He thanked Julie Nelder for her support and help in the flooding incidents in January 2021. He mentioned that these flooding issues had not occurred in his ward before and many of his constituents had felt stressed and upset and he pointed out that the flooding strategy would need a multi-agency approach going forward to prevent potential future flooding incidents. He requested that the Committee look into sending a representative to sit on the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee to ensure that Thurrock was equipped with the right flood defences. He highlighted the need for the service to work with the Enforcement Team on the flood prevention processes and asked that the phone number for flood management issues be included in the Members Induction handbook. He asked whether there would be flood drills and if residents could be included in these. The Chair agreed and asked if the phone number would be easily searched online through Google search. Navtej Tung answered that the phone number would be easy to find and designed to be easily located if searched on the Thurrock website.
Members of the committee were asked to note this report and endorse the action plan set out at 3.1.