Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

26 FEB 2014

MP tells Commons the Winchester story

Steve Brine spoke passionately in the House on Wednesday 26th February, as he praised the work of so many constituents, and warned the crisis on the ground is far from over.

Speaking of the inevitable comparisons with the 2000/2001 floods, the Winchester MP gave the House a full and frank account of the situation faced by residents in Kings Worthy, Headbourne Worthy, Sutton Scotney, Hursley, Littleton, the city centre and Twyford.

He also praised the 'phenomenal' work of members of the community, including David Sullivan and Angela Forder-Stent of Twyford parish council and the rest of the team, parish clerk Sue Hedges and Cllr Stephen Godfrey in Sutton Scotney, and Harry Whorwood and Giles Vigor-Robertson in Headbourne Worthy, who he said had basically given up work over the past few weeks to protect their communities.

Steve said: "I am name-checking those people and talking about their community spirit because it shows the response that communities can give to the devastation that flooding can bring, which many Members have described. The stoicism and pragmatism that I have seen have been remarkable. From the constituents I have met over recent days, I would say that the older they are, the greater their stoicism and pragmatism is, because they have seen it all before."

Steve went on to discuss the multi-agency approach in Winchester, and the excellent work of Winchester City Council, Hampshire County Council, and even the Army.

Singling out the local Environment Agency, he told the House: "Mike O'Neill deserves a mention. He even went door-to-door with me in parts of central Winchester to talk to and reassure residents. He deserves great credit for that.

"At one point, water was flowing down the appropriately named Water Lane in Winchester, which the River Itchen runs past, at 12,000 litres per second—very fast—towards the ancient city mill. That was terrifying for residents. However, the multi-agency working and the good thinking of the Environment Agency prevented flooding in hundreds of homes. It deserves our thanks. The agencies have played a bad hand very well."

He went on to describe the huge 'roll of the dice' in the lowering of several hundred 1-tonne bags of gravel into the River Itchen from the bridge of the M3 motorway to restrict its flow, which slowed the Itchen, flooded upstream farmland in Easton and saved Winchester, a process that had never been done before.

In closing remarks, he expressed his concern about the bids that the Environment Agency has asked Hampshire county council, as the risk management authority in my area, to put together for the six-year plan for 2015-16 to 2020-21, and in particular the feeling that this was far too rushed, and was putting the council is under incredible pressure.

He said: "We need time to get this right. Of course we do not need to drag it out through the whole year until next winter comes around quickly and we are back in this situation again.

"However, my constituents want to know that proposals that miss the deadline because of proper consideration of what we need following the floods will not miss the boat, and that we will not be told that they have missed out as a result."

As we move into the recovery stage, Steve Brine will be speaking to the heads of all the agencies involved, as well as parish and district councillors.


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