Mayor of Todmorden column: Radical approach needed after floods

Mayor of Todmorden Steph Booth with Rik Butterworth and Joanna Drake, two volunteers who turned up on Boxing Day and spent the night in the town hall helping evacuees from Mytholmroyd sleeping in the mayors parlour.
Mayor of Todmorden Steph Booth with Rik Butterworth and Joanna Drake, two volunteers who turned up on Boxing Day and spent the night in the town hall helping evacuees from Mytholmroyd sleeping in the mayors parlour.

Now the worst of the flooding crisis is over we can turn our attention to future planning.

I think one of the most important issues we have to face up to is, flooding will be inevitable. There is no way we can stop it. What we can do is to try to mitigate the consequences.
In the short term the various grants awarded to flood victims can help them to add flood resilience to their homes and businesses. For example, moving fuse boxes up from cellars and purchasing pumps and dehumidifiers. So much of the flooding this time was caused by already saturated ground being unable to absorb any more water. Nearly as much water came up through cellar floors as flowed in through doors.
I have heard some people talking about filling their cellars with concrete. After this sort of disaster I can quite understand how that strategy would be appealing. However, I do wonder where the water would then go. Would it not mean other people would then have to cope with greater volumes of water? Would it not mean water would soak up the house walls instead? I don’t know, but perhaps it is an idea that needs careful thought as more concrete may not be the answer.
Longer term, moorland management should be part of the equation. Gullies, ditches and streams need to be cleaned and maintained on a continuous basis so flood water cannot wash straight down the hills. We need designated water meadows other than our homes. Trees and gorse need to be planted to help lower the water table and stop the hillsides from slipping.
I know there are so many other thoughts and ideas out there. The Environment Agency must listen to local people and their concerns and suggestions around flood management.
These discussions need to inform the Neighbourhood Plan the Town Council is currently developing. I know people groan every time a council talks about a consultation process.
Believe me, you really do need to get involved with this one. Flood strategies will be a key part of the Neighbourhood Plan and the Town Council needs your input. It has to be forward thinking, radical and imaginative – for all our sakes.