Sedgemoor District Council Executive committee discussed an emergency item relating to the Somerset Rivers Authority, to approve funding of 47K for the setting up of the Somerset Rivers Authority. The SRA will be established on an interim basis from 31st January 2015 and the Somerset County Council and local partners, including SDC will fund £800k necessary to make up the 2.7 million necessary, to progress the flood risk management activity for 2015. This will include Maintaining the 2014 dredge on the Parrett and Tone, some pioneer dredging and additional weed cutting and tree work, plus channel maintenance of important watercourses in vulnerable settlements.
Cllr Julian Taylor said: “The setting up of the Somerset Rivers authority has to be welcomed. The floods in 2014 showed that it was obvious that the maintenance of the rivers and moors had been neglected and underfunded since the 1960’s. The cutting back of funding for flood maintenance work since 2010, contributed significantly to the problems for the Environment Agency. The new SRA will make sure that the all partners such as the District Councils, Internal Drainage Boards, the EA, and County Council work together. The SRA should ensure that the County Council fulfils its obligations under the 2010 Water Management Act and ensure that effective flood emergency plans can be initiated when required. However, I am very disappointed that the chancellor has not supported the provision of the Parrett Barrier”.
Cllr Mick Lerry said: “It was important to have decisions being made locally on flood protection and that the Somerset Rivers Authority would now have to be responsible and accountable for the 20 year Flood Action Plan. In the future communities at risk from flooding, would now turn their attention towards the SRA rather than the Government, regarding flood protection”.
Cllr Lerry asked questions about how the 2.7 million funding requirement was arrived at and he was concerned that the SRA should not be another layer of bureaucracy with high operational cost. It was important for the Somerset Rivers Authority to deliver the Flood Action Plan.
Cllr Mick Lerry, leader of the labour Group on Sedgemoor District Council
Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset.