After the flood…the questions…

Dave – the editor

This was our immediate response to the flooding that hit Stanford-le-Hope plus other areas of Thurrock and neighbouring Basildon on 14 January: A lack of joined up thinking = a clusterf**k! In this piece we didn’t mention anything about the two ward councillors for Stanford West, Cllr. Terry Piccolo (Con) and Cllr. Shane Hebb (Con), because we didn’t know whether they were out and about on the day. It transpires that both of them were out even though I didn’t see them down my road which is right opposite a park that was almost all underwater. I was out pretty much all day sweeping floodwater from around my house so I had a fairly good overview of the comings and goings. Maybe it’s because they know I live down there and didn’t fancy fielding some pointed questions!

Well, it transpires that both the ward councillors are calling for a full investigation into why things went so spectacularly wrong on the day: Councillors call for probe into cause of Stanford-le-Hope floods. In the piece we put up on 14 January, we discussed the new housing that was being put up around Stanford-le-Hope, with particular focus on the new Stanford Meadows development (on a floodplain) and the proposed development adjacent to Victoria Road (also on a floodplain!). We also mentioned the impact of the botched A13 widening project on the hydrology of the area.

Cllrs. Piccolo and Hebb are part of the Tory ruling group on Thurrock Council. The A13 widening project is being overseen by the council. Where new housing is located across Thurrock is a responsibility of the planning committee and the planning department, albeit having to respond to government edicts on meeting the demand for new homes. The decision to allow the building development on the floodplain adjacent to Victoria Road is one the council has to take responsibility for. Let’s just say that we and pretty much every other resident of Stanford-le-Hope await the findings of this probe with considerable interest. Let’s hope there’s a plentiful supply of humble pie on hand!

The residents of Bulphan also experienced serious flooding: Finger of blame pointed at faulty sluice as scouts’ building is flooded and waters back up to Bulphan. Bulphan is on the Mar Dyke and this is where the floodwater came from. The cause of the flooding is thought to be faulty sluice gates at the mouth of the Mar Dyke at Purfleet, which at low tide should have been opened to allow excess water to drain away. It didn’t and the floodwater backed up all the way to Bulphan. That is down to the Environment Agency not properly maintaining the sluice gates: Finger pointed at faulty sluice gate. As a point of historical interest, in the 19th century, barges were able to navigate their way all the way up to Bulphan: BARGES TO BULVAN? What needs to be born in mind is that Bulphan has been earmarked for a fair amount of new housing even though it is on a floodplain.

It will be interesting to see how far the probes and questions into the impact of the flooding will go. If it goes as far as it rightly should, there will be a lot of red faces and hopefully, some serious soul searching. However, we will not be holding our breath…

What it should reveal is a disjointed, top down planning system that’s not fit for purpose. What it won’t conclude is that planning should be a resident led, joined up, holistic process. That’s because the social, political and economic system we have to live under cannot be reconciled with such a process. Which is why we need to give the system as it stands a boot up the arse!

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