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Sirens face shutdown

PUBLISHED: 10:20 11 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:23 03 July 2010

A THREE-year campaign to save Norfolk's flood sirens looks to have failed, with councillors being urged to withdraw the sirens from service at the end of this month.

A THREE-year campaign to save Norfolk's flood sirens looks to have failed, with councillors being urged to withdraw the sirens from service at the end of this month.

County councillors will hear next week the findings of a report which says the sirens are unreliable, likely to cause panic and are not fit for purpose

The report by John Ellis, the county's head of emergency planning, recommends Norfolk County Council's cabinet scraps the sirens - 19 of which are in Great Yarmouth - withdrawing them from service on midnight on July 31.

The recommendation is in line with the findings of a cross party scrutiny group and will be presented to councillors in the fire and community protection overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday .

Both the Environment Agency and Norfolk Police - agencies responsible for warnings people about flooding and evacuating people - have said they could not see any situation in which the sirens would be used again.

The report says that unless MPs could persuade the Environment Agency and Norfolk Police to change their views on the sirens, the county council could not justify spending thousands of taxpayers' money on retaining and maintaining the system, which would never be used.

The report goes on to say: “It is the professional opinion of emergency planning officers in Norfolk that flood sirens are not fit for purpose, the system is not reliable, the messages they give (if heard) are not clearly understood by the community and any sounding of them could cause confusion and panic. This in turn could leave the emergency services to deal with secondary incidents, thus not allowing them to effectively manage an evacuation process.”

The meeting is on Tuesday at County Hall, Norwich, at 10am.

The borough's flood sirens are sited at Havenbridge House; Town Hall; Gardline Surveys, in Admiralty Road; EEB substation, Queens Road; the former Art College; British Telecom, North Quay; Cobholm Infant School; Yarmouth High School; Alderman Swindell First School; Gorleston Police Station; Gorleston Fire Station; Yarmouth College; Coopers; Oriel High School; Shrublands community centre; Cliff Park High School; Caister police station; Winterton Youth and Adult Centre; and Hemsby First School.

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