Permanent Bewdley flood defences 'can't come soon enough'
Planned permanent flood defences for Bewdley can't come soon enough, residents said today as work on the promised scheme is expected to begin this year.
It comes as the Met Office has warned of unsettled weather in the West Midlands later this week, with further outbreaks of rain and strong winds forecast on Thursday.
Residents in Bewdley were urged to evacuate their homes due to extremely high water levels on the River Severn last February.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow visited the town around that time to see the damage done after flood waters once again breached temporary barriers.
And she said work would begin this year on promised £6.2 million permanent barriers at the notorious Beales Corner, which has borne the brunt of the flooding.
Environment Agency officers held a consultation on the project in October ahead of official plans being submitted.
The work will reduce flood risk for homes and businesses in the Beales Corner area which will keep the main Kidderminster and Stourport roads into the town open when the river bursts its banks.
Temporary barriers will be replaced with a permanent scheme that will operate to a "higher standard" and with "greater resilience".
Bewdley Town Councillor Sarah Billett, who also runs the cafe at Bewdley Museum, said: "I'm all for them. I think we need those flood defences as soon as possible.
"It is worrying. I was looking at the forecast this week that it's going to be another cold and wet winter."
Hossey Saghri, who owns The Mug House Inn & Restaurant in Bewdley, said he was also in favour of permanent flood barriers being put up in the near future.
"We are very lucky because the flood barriers have been effective and we've stayed dry but it does affect trade," he said.
"The impact it has when Bewdley gets flooded – the whole of Bewdley becomes blocked in, no one can get in or out. Trade is non existent."
Irene Buxton, who lives right next to the river at the corner of Stourport Road and Kidderminster Road, said the downstairs of her property had been flooded within the last couple of years, causing £45,000 worth of damage.
But the 72-year-old said she was optimistic about the plans for a new permanent scheme.
"It's been pretty awful," she said.
"We've been fighting for this for a long time. "I'm pretty optimistic now and would like it in place as soon as possible."
Bewdley Town Councillor Calne Edginton-White, who is also one of the co-ordinators for Bewdley Flood Volunteers, said it will a "massive relief" for residents when permanent barriers are put in place.
She added: "We've been working with the Environment Agency (EA) for some considerable time.
"There's been lots of consultations.
"The residents are 100 per cent behind it. "It's a brilliant scheme that is addressing a very serious ongoing issue we've had for several years.
"I've lived in Bewdley for 60 years and in the last five years the flood barriers have had to go up far more frequently.
"The application is in now and I believe that prep work is due to start before April. The work might take us into 2024."
In November, Anthony Perry, an EA operations manager for the West Midlands, said the agency, together with all partners, was committed to driving forward the delivery of the project and making best possible use of the public money available.