Claims council has failed to tackle Norfolk flooding despite new fund

The flood water under the rail bridge on Green Lane, between Great Plumstead and Thorpe End.

Labour have accused the Conservative-run council of not acting early enough on flooding - Credit: Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Copyright: Archant 2021

Labour councillors have accused Norfolk's Conservatives of failing to deliver on a pledge to reduce flooding - even as the council pledges to spend more on the issue. 

Flooding has affected the county even more severely than usual in recent months, with roads frequently cut off by high waters and many communities suffering from overflowing sewerage

Some 15 flood alerts were in place at the start of this week alone, with risk areas covering vast swathes of Norfolk.

At a Monday meeting of Norfolk County Council's cabinet, Labour councillor Terry Jermy asked cabinet member for the environment, Andy Grant, whether the council would commit to checking its drains and other assets for blockages, saying the authority should “lead by example”.

Norfolk County Councillor Terry Jermy. Picture: Conor Matchett

Labour councillor for Thetford West, Terry Jermy - Credit: Archant

Mr Grant said the council “will endeavour to get all of our assets to the highest standard that they possibly can be”.

According to Mr Grant, the council had dedicated an additional £1.5m flood reserve, and £650,000 for areas including the creation of three new flooding officer posts, and to cover repairs.

He added that the authority’s resources have a finite capacity and any system can be overwhelmed in periods of intense or prolonged rainfall.

But in a Facebook post following the meeting, a Labour group statement said the Conservative group had promised action on flooding in its 2017 Norfolk manifesto, and the latest move amounted to "urgent flapping".

It said: “Suddenly, in the wake of the recent dreadful floods, money is found and urgent flapping ensues. Just think what a difference it could have made if this pledge had been delivered in the four years since it was made."

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Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Jermy said: "They’re belatedly recognising that there is a capacity issue, which is to be welcomed, but it should have been happening before now."

Andy Grant, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for environment and waste. Pic: Norfolk Conserva

Conservative cabinet member for the environment, Andy Grant - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

Responding to Labour’s claim that action has come too late, Mr Grant said: “Despite combating flooding being a key (and only) environmental proposal set out in the Labour manifesto, they have not once sought to engage with this issue through motions or budget amendments, which demonstrates it is simply not an important issue for them.

“In comparison, the administration continues to invest heavily and take swift action on this issue in line with our 2017 pledge and our Environmental Policy.”

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