Another letter about Seacourt P&R

Our letter published in the Oxford Times, 29 December 2016

We wrote recently about Oxford City Council’s proposal to extend the Seacourt Park & Ride into the flood plain, providing 658 extra parking spaces.

Now we read that the very same council wishes to abolish 270 parking spaces at Redbridge in order to develop a recycling facility. The core argument put forward by the City Council to justify their proposal at Seacourt is that extra car parking is so badly needed that it should be allowed even though the expansion site is in Green Belt and functional floodplain, and despite the fact that it is clearly contrary to national planning guidance and could put vehicles and people at risk during a flood. The Redbridge plans now make nonsense of the special case being advanced for Seacourt.

If that is not enough, the budget for construction of an extension at Seacourt has recently doubled from about £2 million to £4.1 million. The City Council Executive Board papers for 15 December 2016 show projected net revenue from the Seacourt Park & Ride extension of £160,000 a year, and this relies on an increase in parking charges from £2 to £3 possibly starting in autumn 2017.

At this rate the investment would take more than 25 years to pay back. If this figure assumes that the car park remains fully operational and doesn’t ever flood, when in reality it will do so virtually every year causing closure and expensive maintenance, the payback time will be even longer than 25 years.

We are discussing our concerns with the City Council as we believe that their proposal is ill-conceived and unjustifiable and that it should be abandoned before any more money is spent.

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Maintenance – site visit to junction of Hinksey Stream and Hinksey Drain

Four of us met this afternoon to inspect this important area. Hinksey Stream and Hinksey Drain are designated Main Rivers: the visit today was to the point, south of South Hinksey, at which the Stream goes under the mainline railway and the Drain diverges from it.

As mentioned on our Home Page we are determined that maintenance of the waterways is properly planned for and given high priority, so everything works as well as possible. We want to see riparian owners fulfilling their legal responsibilities to keep waterways clear. We have for years been agitating that this particular area receive attention as it is in an appallingly poor state.

Today’s meeting took this an important step further on. Present were Peter Collins, Environment Agency, Steve Smith, engineer from Oxford City, and Adrian Porter and Peter Rawcliffe from OFA. There was unanimous agreement that extensive clearance of this area is needed as soon as possible. Steve Smith will be checking on the ownership – once this is certain, Peter Collins will work with whoever it is (seems likely to be Oxford City or Network Rail) and the tenant farmer of the adjacent field, to start clearance asap (subject to bird nesting).

These photos can only give an idea of just how very badly looked after this vital area is. We thank Steve and Peter for taking this on and will be supporting them if any difficulties arise.

 

More pumps for Earl Street

A pump and sump scheme that will provide enhanced protection against groundwater to properties in Earl Street has been approved by the City Council. The scheme was devised by residents Nick Hills (of OFA) and Andy Webber, with input from Paul Kirkley from the council. Paul has been hugely supportive on the ground and with grant applications. Andy stepped down from OFA steering group a while ago, but remains very active in local flood prevention and protection. The scheme will be funded by aggregating individual property Repair and Resilience Grants from Defra, via the City Council, as a community scheme. A contractor has been approved, and work is expected to commence imminently.

Earl Street upgrade

15 October 2014

OFA is working with the City Council on a plan to upgrade the static pumps at the southern end of Earl Street, and to install either sumps and pumps or a static/passive drainage system to protect the rear of properties on both sides in conjunction with property-level protection. Nick Hills will be meeting council officers shortly to finalise plans. We are hopeful that funds will be made available through DEFRA grants.

OAFP meeting

1 October 2014

OFA attended today’s OAFP meeting:

We asked the EA about progress on our proposals for working with them to ensure that riparian owners maintain the long rural stretches of waterways for which they (the owners) are legally responsible. The EA have prepared an ownership map as we agreed when last we met, so we hope to meet with them again soon.

The problem of flood water (groundwater?) in the back gardens on both sides of Earl Street was discussed. It is hoped  that pumps in two gardens and property-level protection will resolve the problem: OFA and the City Council are working together on it.

OFA’s recent reconnaissance trip by canoe from South Hinksey to Redbridge discovered several serious obstructions, trees and so on. We showed photographs of some of them today and they have been reported to the EA as needing removal.

Meeting about sewers

9 May 2014

Simon Collings represented OFA at a meeting of the City Council’s Scrutiny Committee today where the subject of sewer flooding was discussed. Senior representatives of Thames Water were present. Sewer overflow has been a problem in parts of the city for years and is particularly bad when river flooding occurs. The meeting discussed the various issues and possible solutions. The dialogue was constructive and Thames Water and the Council are currently agreeing a communication about the outcomes of the meeting. We hope to be able to say more in the near future. Our sense is that real progress is now being made.

Meeting on OFA proposals; and encouraging maintenance by riparian owners

30 May 2013

1. Meeting this afternoon with representatives of the EA, County, RFCC, City and Vale. We heard the results of assessments of ten proposals put forward by OFA last December. Two broad options are worthy of further investigation: we expect to hear more by the autumn. Also awaited is a reconciliation of two different flood models for our area, which will have an indirect bearing on the proposals mentioned and assist in a re-evaluation of the idea of a new ‘western conveyance’ – i.e. bigger waterway (new, or expanded present ones – or a mix of the two). While nothing is yet definite, we remain patiently optimistic, and determined.

 2. We are starting to work with the EA (first meeting next week) to encourage owners of the banks of the long rural stretches of waterway in the area (for which as riparian owners they are responsible) to undertake long-term maintenance of the waterways.

Munday’s bridge under the railway at Kennington

9 March 2013

We have been urging that this serious bottleneck near Redbridge be sorted out since 2007. Improvements were made in 2009, but more was needed.

Now there is a multi-partner project between Thames Water, Network Rail, Oxford City Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and Oxfordshire County Council to make further improvements. Delays due to legal issues have now been resolved, thanks to help from Oxford’s two MPs, Nicola Blackwood and Andrew Smith. We hope work will now start in early April, but as things are now almost a year late we will only be sure when it actually begins. Nevertheless, action is in sight, and will help reduce the flood risk for many people.

The need for more government funding

12 December 2012

We spent this morning meeting with representatives of the Environment Agency, the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, County Council, Oxford City Council and others. We hosted a meeting with these partners in July, to discuss what can be done to help further reduce flood risk in the Oxford area, and today’s meeting was the follow-up.
The meeting was positive and forward-looking. But while all involved want to see progress, and variously have the skills, knowledge and dedication to achieve it, what is sorely lacking is sufficient central government funding.
Parts of the Oxford Flood Strategy, and several works proposed by ourselves, have been implemented already. These helped in the recent flooding. Getting more done is a long slow process.

We’ll do what we can to keeping flooding high on the political agenda.