July 12, 2016
|Present:||Diane Bryant, Jonathan Bryant, Luis Eckersley, Mike Fox, Steve Gibbs, John Kelsall, Alistair McQuillan , Richard Milne, Kerryanne Wilde|
|Apologies:||Keith Teasdale, Steve Whitby|
|Minutes compiled by:||Diane Bryant|
Business arising from previous meeting/minutes
SG welcomed AM to the group. Actions from previous meeting were confirmed.
SG had invited Hunter Davies to be patron but he declined as he has moved back to London.
DB was pleased to announce that the bank balance for the group stands at £70.02 with a further £105.66 received from online PayPal donations. The group wishes to thank the donations from the community so far.
JB & DB are looking at various methods for raising funds. There was unanimous agreement that care should be taken regarding funding. The group wishes to remain as autonomous as possible and retain the strong voice. KW mentioned various bodies offering funding – will provide DB with a list after meeting.
Committee Appointments & Vacancies
The following posts remain unfilled:
- Media/PR Officer
- Stakeholder Liaison Officer
Cumbria County Council Meeting JK
JK & SG attended a meeting on 11th July with Stewart Young, Angela Jones, Colin Glover & Jane Meek. The meeting was generally positive but it was felt that the authorities are confused that the group is not slotting into the “perceived expectations” of a flood action group. The Carlisle Flood Action Group is campaigning for change to enable long term protection of the city and its surrounding districts.
Flood groups are “expected” to prepare and be on the ground in emergency situations. The group is partnering with The Eden Flood Volunteers to provide this role. We do not believe in reinventing the wheel especially when the Eden Flood Volunteers are much better equipped and funded. KerriAnne Wilde is the director of EFV and sits on our committee so is fully involved.
It is felt that the attendees of the meeting were open to the flood group views that a professionally led consultancy review of the Eden catchment should be undertaken followed by the formation of a new authority with the ability to raise revenues from a shadow precept. Cumbria County council are considered to be betwixt a rock and a hard place. They are the lead flood authority but are expected to partner with the Environment Agency for main Rivers.
It is hoped that a further meeting can be arranged to better explain the concepts and it is hoped that we can persuade a leading figure from the Somerset Rivers Authority to attend.
Cumbria Flood Plan produced by Rory Stewart JK
The Cumbria Flood Action Plan was released for publication by Rory Stewart on 30 June 2016. It can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cumbria-flood-action-plan.
JK felt that while the plan was entirely laudable, it was mainly focused on short term measures. It was felt that some of these measures were obvious, even to the man on the street and perhaps the time taken in delivering the plan could have been better spent actually carrying out the measures.
There was a question over why the plan was suggesting removing weirs when it has been commonly thought that weirs can help in a flood situation. Many of the technical members of the group feel that a lot can be gained by obstruction removal, profiling of bridges and certain river banks and lowering river beds which have historically been allowed to silt up. The plan seems to gloss over these activities.
SG mentioned that he has sent a formal request to EA to allow the community to remove gravel from the Lower River Eden. The request states that we wish to this legally and as safely as possible. We are still awaiting a response.
JK to lead the technical team in producing the groups Flood Action Recommendations.
Flood Resilience Group meeting hosted by ACT LE
LE and MF attended this meeting on behalf of the group. The meeting was hosted by Action in Cumbria. The EA are recommending that each community creates a Flood Action group, who will plan and prepare for flood accordingly. This will include ensuring that there are appropriate sand bags, planning for emergency rescue and appointing a coordinator. LE questioned how that would work in Carlisle where a boundary between groups is no so easily formed as in the smaller rural communities. Who would set them up and how would they receive funding for this? Would they need public liability insurance if they were sending people into rescue scenarios? It was felt that this has not been thought through properly and consternation that the council was shirking its duty. LE to setup a meeting with Jonathan Burgess, emergency planning officer for Cumbria County Council to try and progress this further. LE felt it was appropriate that Jonathan also speak to KW regarding the Eden Flood Volunteer efforts in this area.
Environment Audit Committee RM
RM produced notes (click here) on the Environment Audit Committee Report chaired by Mary Creagh and the Worsfield Review. RM stated that the review was critical not only of the EA but also of Government planning & funding. Too many sticking plasters used and too many of the current protection measures failing due to lack of maintenance and renewal.
The EAs direct Asset value is £23bn but they also oversee £15bn assets for other organisations. James Bevan declared that “I have enough funding for the next 5 years” but the report states that this is not the case.
RM is in the process of producing a very useful schematic diagram of the catchment systems that affect the River Eden.
Emergency Flood Network KW
KW updated us new developments for Eden Flood Volunteers. Driven by the lack of communication and organisation at the time of the flooding EFV are in the process of setting up an Emergency Response Team. The team will partner with the emergency services, councils, business and local flood groups to coordinate efforts when a flood event occurs. Considering the comments from LE earlier regarding council and EA efforts to shift the responsibility onto local groups it seems that this is much needed.
The emergency response team will act as a 4th level emergency service.
Guerilla Dredging AC
In the absence of AC, SG outlined the proposal to EA to dredge the Lower River Eden. If the EA are not forthcoming about his proposal then the suggestion is that we gather the local community and dredge it ourselves. This would need to be carried out legally and safely and if this was not possible then it was felt that a bucket and spade demonstration should be carried out.
Crosby/Warwick Bridge Flood Forum JB & MF
JB & MF attended the Flood forums for these areas. EA have acknowledged that despite millions of pounds being promised by the chancellor, the EA do not have access to any direct funds for any further flood prevention measures. It is believed that there is a national pot of £750 million, £325 million of which has already been committed, the rest to be allocated on a first come first served basis. The EA and CCC have to submit business cases for the funding.
MF noted that there is a greater need to tie in outlying communities with city. Progress beyond sticking plasters will only be made if greater lateral thinking is employed. The EA do not seem to have these capabilities, it will be dependent on rural and city groups working together to press for joined up thinking.
SG reminded everybody that the National Flood Resilience Review is due out soon. The review led by Oliver Letwin and Rory Stewart will assess how the country can be better protected from future flooding and increasingly extreme weather events. The group’s expectation is low but we are hoping to be pleasantly surprised. The only hope is if the government are willing to act on the many expert opinions by Lord Krebbs, Dieter Helm and the Environment Audit Committee Report.
SG has had meetings with the CN group to ask them to come on board and support the group objectives fully. The symbolism of the Blue Ribbon campaign is a particularly powerful message. We also had a visit from Tatiana Schlossberg of the New York Times. We managed to fill as much of her time as possible culminating in an open meeting at the Beehive pub. It was felt that Tatiana’s focus will be on climate change and its effects but as the NY Times is an influential newspaper we may achieve a ripple effect.
Any Other Business
DB questioned whether the Carlisle Flood Action group should become the Eden Flood Protection Group to better reflect our objectives. It was agreed that this should be addressed in correspondence between members over the course of the coming month.