Anger after European flood snub for Morpeth

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MORPETH has been missed off the map for national and European flooding hot spots.

About 1,000 homes and businesses in the town were flooded out in September 2008 when the River Wansbeck burst its banks, while drainage systems failed to cope with surface water.

Some families are only now beginning to rebuild their lives and there is still no sign of a flood alleviation project getting under construction.

But now county councillors have been told that due to the methodology used for assessment, Morpeth does not feature in national or European ‘indicative flood risk areas’.

The council insists that the town will be included in a local strategy for flood risk management, but due to complex mapping methods where the number of people at risk has to be greater than 30,000, there are no areas of Northumberland and only ten nationally that satisfy the criteria for the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment for the European Commission.

Members of the authority’s Communities and Place Scrutiny Committee were concerned that it could lead to the county missing out on funding for flood works and stressed the need to point out that the methodology is flawed when the assessment is submitted.

Coun Peter Jackson said: “In Morpeth we had 1,000 families flooded out and for some of them they are just getting their lives back together now. That is the consequence of what I would consider a major flood event, but it doesn’t really feature on a national or European scale.

“That methodology just doesn’t suit us whatsoever. People will look to this to decide where the funding for flood work is going to go in the future. They will look at all of this with a national hat on and say the places at risk are where the highest density population is.

“We don’t feature on the map so we need to constantly make the argument for ourselves.”

Officers said they are working with other rural authorities to highlight the problems and will suggest that the criteria used in Scotland is more suitable to this area.