'Strategic' sandbag storage being considered in flood response

Sandbags could be stored at 'strategic locations' around the county under plans to improve a council response to flooding.

Bridgnorth was one of our towns hit by flooding at the start of the year
Bridgnorth was one of our towns hit by flooding at the start of the year

Shropshire Council's Communities Overview Committee has been told the measure is one of those being considered in the wake of major flooding in the county over the past two years.

In a meeting held at Shirehall, councillors were also told that the council would be making changes so that its 24-hour flood line would be manned by council staff – and not those from an outside agency as it is currently.

Committee member, Councillor Christian Lea, who represents Bridgnorth East and Astley Abbotts, asked council officers where Bridgnorth residents would access sandbags after the closure of the town's council highways depot.

In response John Bellis, Shropshire Council’s Flood Risk Manager said discussions were taking place to find a location for the town, while the authority is also considering basing sandbags at other locations around the county.

In the event of major flooding the council makes sandbags available to residents to protect their homes.

Mr Bellis said: "I have recently had a meeting with a couple of Bridgnorth Town Councillors to identify a site where sandbags can be stored during a flood event.

"That has been considered and is ongoing to identify and confirm that site."

He added: "I think what I would say is the storing of sandbags in strategic locations is something we are looking to roll out in other areas. We have talked about Ludlow, that may be another area where that could take place.

"I think we need to understand that during a flood event Shropshire Council services are stretched and we cannot get to every location so having these satellite areas where these can be stored for a response is a really good idea and the way we would like to go if possible."

The committee also heard from Chris Westwood, Shropshire Council's Customer Services Manager, on plans to improve the council's 24-hour response to calls about flooding.

He said: "At the moment the out-of-hours service is still handled by an external third party and it will be until the end of this financial year so if there is unfortunately any flooding over the winter it will be done through that third party, but for the future I am under instruction to bring that out-of-hours service back in house, into the Shropshire Council team. And the intention from me is to use the council CCTV team, these staff are already shift workers so they are available 24/7 and it will be 356 days a year so they will cover all weekends and bank holidays.

"It does require some investment and is subject to a business case but I am assured the business case will be successful, it will be going through this week actually and we already have advance permission to do that."

The committee heard that work on a 'Severe Weather Plan' was continuing, with the proposal designed as a plan to improve response to flooding in the wake of the major incidents of the past two years.

Andy Wilde, Shropshire Council's Head of Highways said the plan involves all levels of the council and added: "There has been a lot going on behind the scenes to put us in a better position and the report will strengthen that further."

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