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Council launches multi-million pound fund to tackle flooding

A £8.25 million fund to pay for flood related schemes was announced today by West Sussex County Council.

The money will pay for highway drainage and environmental improvements in areas of the county that have been the worst affected in recent months.

The announcement comes after prolonged heavy rain over the Christmas period and the publication last month of a major report into the June 2012 floods.

The county council will now start drawing up a list of schemes with priority being given to areas that have seen repeat flooding.

Further details will be given over the coming months.

The fund is designed to:

• Fix highway drainage hotspots

• Contribute to schemes with partners where the drainage system needs improvements

• Support community solutions including working with owners of private ditches

• Restore the highways network that has been damaged by the winter weather.

Council leader Louise Goldsmith said: “We promised that the report into the June floods was just the beginning, and would be translated into action. In view of the weather in recent weeks, there is an even greater urgency.

“Now we have the finance in place we can look in detail at schemes that will reduce the impact of future flooding on home owners, our business community and road users.

“In the first instance we will be focusing on areas that have suffered repeat flooding to ensure that this money is well invested, and has significant benefits.”

The initiative will be known as ‘Operation Watershed’.

The county council will also be working closely with other agencies responsible for aspects of drainage including the Environment Agency and Southern Water.

Work has already started on a key recommendation of the June flood report – a detailed register showing exactly who is responsible for all aspects of drainage in West Sussex.

The county council is also urging private landowners with responsibility for ditches to take action to ensure they are well maintained and regularly cleared.

Louise has also given details of how the drainage and environmental projects will be financed.

She said: “Essentially the money is coming from our reserves.

“We have always stressed that we need a healthy level of reserves to meet the long term costs of a wide variety of schemes that we are already committed to deliver, and ones we know we will be delivering in future.

“But, we have always stressed that we also need reserves to fulfil our obligations to residents during emergency situations.

“I am sure everyone will agree that the impact of the weather we experienced last year is just such an emergency.”

Earlier this week, West Sussex Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Pieter Montyn announced it was launching extra pothole patrols between now and the end of March to cope with the increased number of road defects caused by the weather.

He said: “This new and major investment will be really welcome, and meetings to look at the first priorities have already been arranged.”

New website pages at www.westsussex.gov.uk have also been launched outlining what is being done, and how residents can report potholes

 

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