Shropshire Star

Standing room only at meeting into Shrewsbury flooding issues

It was standing room only when flooding victims gathered at the public meeting called by the Shrewsbury Flood Action Group.

Last updated

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276

Around 60 people from all along the watercourses in Shropshire crammed into Shrewsbury's boardgame cafe on Tuesday evening to voice their concerns and hear from a range of speakers about the threat of flooding.

The meeting, held at Nerdy on Mardol in the town centre, was called by the Shrewsbury Flood Action Group, with the hope of bringing those in Shropshire repeatedly affected by flooding together as one voice.

Nerdy itself had not long recovered from the latest bout of flooding in January and over the last four years has been hit several times. During one of the floods, the team was forced to fully replace their floors at the cost of £3,000 - something only made possible by crowdfunding.

The room heard from Shropshire councillors, The National Flood Forum, the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme as well as the Environment Agency, who laid bare the grim facts of the growing frequency of major flood events.

Since the end of Storm Babet in October, across Shrewsbury the EA has issued 10 flood alerts and five flood warnings, giving warnings to around 1,500 properties across the town.

The flood defences at Frankwell have been deployed five times during this latest flooding season, and those at Coleham twice.

"What used to be a one-in-a-hundred-year event, has now unfortunately happened three times in the last ten years," said Councillor Julia Buckley.

"I would like to pay tribute to Shropshire Council and those who have worked on the River Severn Partnership, we all appreciate the long-term planning, but actually our residents need the short-term funding, the short-term resources so that we are ready for when the flood comes and we can react quicker."

Tuesday's meeting also hoped to gather data for Shropshire Council to be eligible for government funding.

To access the Storm Henk grant, the council is required to demonstrate that more than 50 homes and businesses were flooding internally - as of Tuesday's meeting, only 44 homes and businesses had come forward.

Siobhan Connor, chair of Shrewsbury Flood Action Group, opened the meeting with a plea to attendees to inform the council or the action group if they had experienced flooding, saying: "Doing nothing is not an option."

But some, unaware of grants available to them, raised the issue of what they considered to be a lack of communication.

Shropshire Councillor Ian Nellins

One frustrated resident asked Shropshire councillor Ian Nellins: "I thought the council had an idea of all the properties that get regularly flooded, shouldn't it be a situation where you should be coming to us?"

Councillor Nellins responded: "In an ideal world, that would be the best way. But please remember communication does work two ways. That information is put out there. If you don't know how to get in touch, the flood action group is a really good medium for that."

Siobhan Connor added: "I think we really need to work together to record this information because we all deserve better."

The meeting also heard from tenant farmer Ed Tate, who has been using sustainable farming methods to help 'slow the flow' of the River Severn upstream from Shrewsbury.

Mr Tate argued that more needed to be done to support farmers to use their land to help with water management.

Farmer Ed Tate speaking at the meeting

He said: "Farms are all businesses, it's a bit like going into Tesco and asking the manager to take out aisles 12, 13, 14, 21, 22 and 23 and put water butts in their place.

"The manager would, quite rightly, tell you to hoof it. Now we're going to make the same ask of the land managers, and we're going to need support to do that, and the correct support.

"As far as flood damage goes and the effects of climate change, we are affected by it just as much as you are and we have got a role to play and we are up for it."

Mike Adams from the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme brought the meeting to a close with a presentation about the project.

The scheme is being developed by the EA as a means of preventing some of the chronic flooding that has affected Shropshire and the borders in recent years.

The plans could utilise several engineering and nature-based measures to help tackle flooding in the upper Severn catchment.

Mr Adams said a consultation around the project was due to be launched around Easter.