THE Environment Agency’s ability to communicate with victims of this year’s winter floods in Cirencester has been described as a “bloody shambles” by the town’s mayor.
Mayor Joe Harris made the sniping remark at a public flood meeting in Cirencester that was chaired by Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown on Friday, April 4.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Joe Harris pointed the finger at Environment Agency (EA) representative Peter Collins.
“The Environment Agency is a bloody shambles. All we wanted on the ground was some communication. You have to act now, you really do,” he said.
The mayor’s views were echoed by Hereward Road resident Dorothy Hoyle, who said that she had seen and heard little from the organisation during the floods.
Mr Clifton-Brown told the meeting that Cirencester’s issue with the Environment Agency was not isolated and that residents in South Cerney had also raised concerns.
Peter Collins, an EA officer responsible for flooding in the West Thames area, defended the organisation’s work in the area and said that over £2million has been invested into improving the flow of the River Churn.
“Our role is to reduce the stress that comes with flooding. It isn’t true to say that we have done nothing, we are going to continue working with people in the town,” he said.
The meeting, which was also attended by officials from Thames Water, the county council and Cirencester Town Council, also heard from people worried about the impact building more homes in the district would have on flooding.
Gloucestershire county councillor Shaun Parsons spoke about the proposed development of around 2,500 homes in Cirencester and said that the current infrastructure would “struggle to cope” under the weight.
Mr Clifton-Brown raised his own concerns on this topic and said that he was “not satisfied” that Cotswold District Council’s planning committee had sufficient powers to reject developments on flooding grounds.
He told the group that after bringing the issue up in Parliament, he has since arranged to meet with Planning Minister Nick Boles MP at CDC’s Cirencester offices to discuss it further.
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown also held flood meetings at other locations across the district including South Cerney, Fairford and Moreton-in-Marsh.