Leighton Buzzard councillors look at flood management after brook reached 'highest ever recorded level'

Liberal Democrat councillors are hoping to meet with the Environment Agency
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Residents of Waterdell and Lovent Drive in Leighton Buzzard had garages, outbuildings and gardens flooded when the Clipstone Brook reached its highest ever recorded level, last month.

Their concerns about the management of the brook are being taken up by local Liberal Democrat councillors, who hope to arrange a meeting with the Environment Agency.

Multiple parts of Central Bedfordshire were affected by flooding during Storm Henk from main rivers, smaller watercourses, surface and ground water, according to a Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) report.

Flood waters came very close to houses - Photo David PerkinsFlood waters came very close to houses - Photo David Perkins
Flood waters came very close to houses - Photo David Perkins

CBC directly received about 90 reports of flooding affecting homes, businesses, roads and other infrastructure, said the report.

“Rain fell on an already saturated catchment, resulting in excessive surface water runoff and river levels reacting rapidly, with the highest totals reported over the River Ouzel catchment.

“This rain elevated river levels and resulted in the Environment Agency issuing 34 flood alerts and 18 flood warnings in the Great Ouse catchment.

“The response to the storm is still ongoing, data collection and other aspects of recovery have begun. CBC is working with its partners and relevant risk management authorities.”

A strategic policy debate on flooding was held at a full CBC meeting to consider what improvements are needed locally and the local authority’s future response.

Independent Leighton Linslade West councillor Victoria Harvey explained: “We need to look ahead with nature-based solutions. It’s how you manage fields.

“The government is changing the way it’s funding land for the nature and ecosystems market. You can look at getting money for biodiversity, for dealing with floods and for a range of issues on land.

“It’s time to examine our assets, and how we can create flood plains and lovely wetlands, supporting wildlife and recreation, which means rivers and brooks flood upstream.”

Liberal Democrat Leighton Linslade South councillor Emma Holland-Lindsay warned: “We shouldn’t be waiting for homes to flood before we’re getting money to stop that.

“I’d like this council to make a really strong case to government for more funding to prevent flooding, and not just for the clean-up once it’s happened.”

Liberal Democrat Leighton Linslade South councillor Shaun Roberts added: “This really should be a wake-up call.

“Regardless of which agency is individually responsible for the different areas of flooding and the various causes, it’s important this council takes a lead on behalf of our residents and we get defences in place because this will happen again.”

Independent Leighton Linslade West councillor Steve Owen wondered whether a model similar to the Ouzel Valley Park Steering Group might enable parish and town councillors “to join us in planning local solutions to these problems”.

Conservative Heath and Reach councillor Mark Versallion said: “My ward is bounded by the River Ouze and Clipstone Brook runs through the village, Hockliffe and Eggington.

“There was genuine concern from residents during the downpour and the floods. The demand was so sudden and so intense that it was overwhelming for some parts of this council.

“I’d prefer more on the strategic influence of the internal drainage board, which has a significant role managing flood levels of Clipstone Brook.”