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Flood siren plans slammed

PUBLISHED: 09:52 04 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:30 03 July 2010

A county council decision to scrap Norfolk's flood sirens has been attacked as going against public opinion and putting lives at risk.

The blast came from North Norfolk District Council's cabinet, which called on Norfolk County Council to rethink its move to switch off the sirens at the end of January 2010, leaving parish and town councils to oversee their last line of defence against coastal flooding.

A county council decision to scrap Norfolk's flood sirens has been attacked as going against public opinion and putting lives at risk.

The blast came from North Norfolk District Council's cabinet, which called on Norfolk County Council to rethink its move to switch off the sirens at the end of January 2010, leaving parish and town councils to oversee their last line of defence against coastal flooding.

The sirens are sounded as a last resort to inform householders in threatened areas to leave their homes and head for safety due to imminent flooding.

But they do not form part of the Environment Agency's telephone-based warning systems for coastal flooding, and the county council has decided to offer town and parish councils the opportunity to maintain the system themselves.

The district council has received a letter from Harry Humphrey, county council cabinet member for fire and community protection, explaining the decision was because they felt the sirens were not fit for purpose due to their reliance on an analogue radio signal which will be withdrawn in 2014, were “unreliable” and potentially confusing due to differing understandings of what the sirens meant.

But, in an angry outburst that was greeted with applause, Lee Walker said: “I do not care what Harry Humphrey, the Envinromental Agency or the police think. I care about the residents and the electorate of this council.

“It's their council tax money and they want it spent on this service. It's our money, we want it spent on our services.”

Members accused the county council and Environment Agency of failing to learn lessons from 2007's coastal floods, when evacuation sirens in Walcott were not turned on despite requests from flood wardens, and pointed out that even with advance warning the weather remained impossible to predict completely.

Penny Bevan-Jones said there was great difficulty in getting the county council to change its position on the sirens, adding.

The cabinet unanimously decided to write to the county council urging it to maintain the sirens and integrate them into a modern and efficient system.


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