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Campaign to delay flood siren decision

PUBLISHED: 12:14 22 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 03 July 2010

FLOOD sirens campaigners have urged a stay of execution of nine months to a year ahead of yet another key meeting on Monday.

Members of Norfolk County Council's cabinet are expected to set a time frame for the possible passing of the sirens from their control to the hands of town and parish councils.

FLOOD sirens campaigners have urged a stay of execution of nine months to a year ahead of yet another key meeting on Monday.

Members of Norfolk County Council's cabinet are expected to set a time frame for the possible passing of the sirens from their control to the hands of town and parish councils.

An initial 'switch off' date of the end of this month has already been called into question because it doesn't give the parishes the time to make decisions about whether they want to commit to the financial and practical obligations associated with the sirens.

It is understood the cabinet, which meets at 9am on Monday at County Hall, will discuss an extension of 12 weeks, but campaigners want this extended.

Paul Morse, who leads the Lib Dem group at the county council, said nine months to a year was necessary.

“There is still a great deal of work which needs to be done on this matter,” said Mr Morse.

“We need to know what the cost would be of replacing the sirens with modern units and what the recent suggestion of using the Sustainable Communities Act to help the parishes really means.

“People don't trust the alterative Environment Agency floodline warnings direct system - I know that is true because my division was the only one directly affected by the flooding of November 2007 and people have told me often enough.

“The detail must be considered, rushing will not help - and all this in the context of a council with lots of new members, many of whom were not even aware of what happened at Walcott more than a year and a half ago.”

Mr Morse repeated his concern that the Conservatives' June 4 county council elections manifesto committed them to “fight Environment Agency plans to shut down the flood sirens”, but that did not appear to be happening.

Wells flood warden and newly elected Lib Dem county councillor Marie Strong said: “They must extend the time on this, I say it needs to be another year to deal with everything from health and safety, risk assessments and the key matter of the Sustainable Communities Act.”

She also said the Environment Agency needed to be “challenged” to prove the floodline warnings direct system was “infallible”, which she and others have long argued it is not.

The idea of using the Sustainable Communities Act was put forward at a recent Fire and Community Protection panel meeting, where Tony Tomkinson, county councillor for Clavering, said it might even be able to compel the Environment Agency and police to use the sirens.

Anyone who wants to ask a question at Monday's cabinet meeting needs to have sent it in by 5pm today. Log on to www.norfolk.gov.uk/cabinetquestions.


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