Flood prevention measures for Leighton Buzzard designed and funded two decades ago - but not built

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“Local residents want to know why that flood protection scheme didn’t go ahead” says MP

Flood prevention measures along part of Clipstone Brook in Leighton Buzzard were never delivered around 20 years ago, when funding was in place and the scheme designed, a meeting heard.

The plans date back to 2001, while the Environment Agency had access to finance four years later and was set to proceed in 2007, according to Conservative South West Bedfordshire MP Andrew Selous.

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The Leighton Buzzard flood alleviation scheme was a proposal around the brook, he told Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive.

Flooding on field at the back of Clipstone Brook Lower School. Picture: Lowlands RescueFlooding on field at the back of Clipstone Brook Lower School. Picture: Lowlands Rescue
Flooding on field at the back of Clipstone Brook Lower School. Picture: Lowlands Rescue

“Local residents want to know why that flood protection scheme didn’t go ahead,” he explained. “Since then we’ve had plenty of housing built on that side of town.

“A serious blockage was reported by a resident in Clipstone Brook in 2021, which is still there, despite a survey in October. I’d like to know who’s responsible for removing that.

“And could residents experiencing flooding have a subsidy towards flood protection for their homes, such as flood resistance doors, which would total around £2,000 per household?” he asked.

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Two Lovent Drive residents sought reassurance from the committee about a multi-agency plan around flood prevention in Clipstone Brook.

Trisha Bates raised concerns around how the drainage system into the brook will be maintained, warning: “Although there was an unprecedented amount of rain, I don’t think that’s been the only contributor.

“The drainage is all backed up. There’s a flap from our drainage system into the brook, which is held open by debris. That’s why we had such a severe incident.

“It wasn’t just the surface water. It was the sewage coming back up our drains because that sewer system was clogged up.

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“We want to know how to report issues. If we’d had an effective action plan, the debris could have been moved preventing the severity of flooding in people’s gardens and garages in January.”

CBC deputy leader and Independent Biggleswade West councillor Hayley Whitaker replied: “There was a blocked flap issue with debris, which has been resolved by the Environment Agency.

“Those (other) agencies are working incredibly hard. They devise a scheme to resolve a problem and then ask for the money to implement that work. It won’t happen overnight.

“It’s not our responsibility to provide the funding. We’ll work with you as residents to make your homes as flood proof as possible. It’s really confusing with all the different agencies and who’s responsible for what. I’ll raise this with officers.

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“A Clipstone Brook alleviation scheme was devised. Funding was applied for, although this wasn’t in place to do the whole project.

“A smaller scheme was done further up stream to ease the issue before it got to the brook area, but it never happened.”

Speaking to Andrew Selous, MP for South West Beds, she added: “I’d challenge you as the MP to go back to the Environment Agency and the government, and ask about that.”

Council leader and Independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny added: “On subsidies, local authorities receive monies if there are 50 properties affected.

“That used to be a smaller number of homes. We need to raise awareness that 30 or 40 properties being severely affected is crucial.”