Suffolk County Council’s flood risk management committee has published its recommendations following a meeting last month in which data indicated the number of road flooding problem area had increased by 60% in 18 months, leaving a backlog of more than 800 areas that could take a decade to fix.
The committee has said that the authority needs to recruit more specialist officers to plan and manage reactive flood maintenance work, allocate more resources to ensure flooding spots are mapped, and “a need to establish a longer-term more stable funding strategy to enable the council to plan and implement flood remediation measures effectively”.
Other recommendations include investigating stronger enforcement measures when blocked drains cause road flooding, more engagement with the planning system to ensure developers make contributions to tackling road flooding and upgrading equipment for more complex cases, reports the East Anglian Daily Times.
The report said the cabinet “should explore with officers from Suffolk Highways the resource that would be required to address issues resulting from historic underfunding of highways flooding programmes, address concerns relating to high priority flood prone locations, and promote confidence in future flood related investment”.
Conservative cabinet member for highways, Andrew Reid, said: “We take flooding on the highways very seriously, which is why we have already doubled our spending for the coming year from £2million to £4m. This extra money is to tackle the backlog of issues on our roads in Suffolk and we will be spending it on hiring new specialist equipment and experienced engineers. They will focus on identifying and quickly resolving the more straightforward flooding problems.
“We have of course, had an extremely wet autumn and winter and I know this extra spending now will make a significant difference to improving highways drainage right across the county.
“Suffolk Conservatives in our manifesto are pledging to spend an extra £10m on highways drainage and flooding over the next four years. This would allow us to focus on the more complex drainage problems and prioritise our efforts on resolving them.”
Peter Gardiner, deputy leader of the opposition Labour group and spokesman for public protection and the environment, said: “For too long communities in Suffolk have been treated as an afterthought by the Conservatives when it comes to flooding.
“It is a complete farce that some people will have to wait for 10 years for action to be taken in their area, and this is a direct result of the Conservatives thinking they can tinker around the edges and make changes on the cheap.
“This clearly needs to be made a priority and Labour are committed to delivering the investment Suffolk needs to tackle this crisis now, not in a decade’s time.