Flooding budget money to dry up

Flooding in St Michaels
Flooding in St Michaels
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Flood budgets in Wyre and Fylde are set to slashed – just weeks after Storm Eva left villages submerged.

St Michaels was among a host of villages to be deluged by the December storms. The village school is still some way off re-opening and locals admit the village hall may take even longer to bring back into use.

f they can do things better and more efficiently then OK. But not at the risk of people’s lives and homes

But faced with having to find an extra £200m in economies on top of huge reductions already planned, County Hall’s ruling Labour group says it has no option but to look at every possible area of savings.

And the county’s flood risk management team, which costs almost £700,000 to run, is one of those in the firing line.

The authority says changes made last April, which hand some of the team’s role to district councils, mean cuts of £78,000 can be made for next year and £67,000 in 2017/18.

Judith Hunt, who runs a ladies’ group which has been forced to move out to neighbouring Great Eccleston for meetings, said: “I suppose with the deficit the county council has they have to make cutbacks. We can’t spend more than what is coming in, as any housewife knows. There have to be economies.

“If they can do things better and more efficiently then OK. But not at the risk of people’s lives and homes.

“It is really bad timing.”

Coun Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “Government legislation passed in 2010 required the county council to act as an approval body for drainage systems required by new developments.

“This process was intended to be funded by developers, and the county council created a flood risk management team to provide the resources to undertake this role.

“In April 2015 the government scrapped this scheme and introduced a less rigorous system under which developers apply for planning permission to district councils.

“The reduction in funding for the flood risk management team reflects this change of role.

“We remain committed to reducing the risk of flooding and will still fulfil all of our statutory legal obligations around the planning process and in relation to investigating flooding incidents, asset management and carrying out our regulatory responsibilities.”