25 November 2010
Our third Annual Public Meeting was held at the West Oxford Democrats Club, Osney Island today.
Very many thanks to the Club for once again providing us with a warm and comfortable venue – not to mention the bar!
The meeting was attended by over 80 people. We had had some concern that numbers might be down as it is now 3 years since a major Oxford flood, but thanks to Andy Webber’s efforts in distributing flyers, that did not happen. A big thank you to everyone who came out on a very cold night.
It was good to see Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East, who represents many flooded people along the Abingdon Road and elsewhere. He had with him a copy of our Building on Success, and has asked us to keep him in the picture about things at Redbridge, which affect his constituents as well as those further west. We are delighted that he said he will support us in getting necessary flood risk reduction work done there.
Flooded people from many parts of Oxford were present as were City and County Councillors and officers from City and Environment Agency. Among them it was good to see our previous Flood Stars, Nigel Bray (EA), Susanna Pressel (City and County Councillor) as well as Mary Timbrell (resident of Duke Street).
Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East (left) and Barry Russell, Area Flood Risk Manager, Environment Agency, at OFA’s APM.
Keith Hutchence (R) of the Environment Agency was awarded our Flood Star for 2010. He was thanked for all he has done and presented with a unique bottle of “OFA Flood Star 2010” by Andy Webber.
Presentation by the EA
We were pleased to be sharing our meeting with the EA. They have been thinking about further ways to protect the Earl and Duke Street and Marlborough Court area, in particular possible ways of keeping water out of the back of properties bordering the Bulstake Stream. Barry Russell, EA Area Flood Risk Manager, presented these ideas to the meeting and answered questions. The ideas are at an early stage and residents will be consulted further; any comments in the meantime can be made direct to the EA or via your local OFA person.
Barry told the meeting about the planned pavement hump for the Botley Road end of Earl Street, which will be topped with a row of sandbags during flooding, keeping water out of the street. The County Council will be installing this in the New Year. There are also plans to provide a removable flood barrier for the alleyway into Duke Street from the east, to stop water flowing into the street from the Bulstake Stream.
Peter Rawcliffe then spoke about:
Events and work completed in 2010
January: Network Rail remove redundant level crossing bridge at Redbridge.
March: publication and launch meeting of our Building on Success, Suggestions for medium-term measures to further reduce the risk of flooding in Oxford and the surrounding area. See list of attendees at the launch meeting here.
EA clear Hinksey Stream from North Hinksey to Redbridge.
November: meeting with EA’s Director of Operations; Head of Operations; and Thames Regional Director, and others.
Maintaining and developing our website.
Still in progress, but now heading for a successful conclusion:
- Duke and Earl Street – see above.
- Lamarsh Road as a flood route, to which we have made an important contribution – initiating the idea (March 2010), pressing the case and helping with the assessment (Oct 2010). The City, County, EA and developers Kingerlee have all played active roles and we are together on course to a successful conclusion. The result will:
- Benefit existing and new businesses in and off Lamarsh Road.
- Benefit residents who reach their houses via Lamarsh Road – Oriel Mews, and in future Rewley Press and Kingerlee housing.
- Divert water away from proposed Earl Street pedestrian hump. The level in Lamarsh will be just lower than the height of the hump plus one sandbag.
2011: in the pipeline already:
- Willow Walk, North Hinksey – culverts are to be installed to move water more quickly down the floodplain. Suggested by OFA and taken up by EA and City.
- Hinksey Stream, further clearance at Redbridge (EA).
- Network Rail, clearing several waterways and renewing weir north of Redbridge.
- Lamarsh Road – see above.
- Culvert through causeway at South Hinksey (Vale of White Horse).
OFA’s top 4 for action in 2011:
John Mastroddi described the issues at Munday’s and Stroud’s bridges at Redbridge. See Building on Success.
Richard Thurston spoke about two things that would help Osney Island:
- West Street Pumping Station: upgrade the current pumping station by installing a pump of greater capacity.
Redesign the outfall so that the water is discharged with the flow of water in Osney Stream.
- Build a new spur from the Bridge Street extension road drain via the passageway into the Environment Agency’s land, where a new sump be created. From the sump, excess water would be pumped into the weir pool.
Mike Hamblett showed us the poor state of the weirs and sluices on Castle Mill Stream – the photo speaks for itself. Castle Mill Stream has potential to carry more water than it does, having relatively high gradients. We suggest these structures be mapped and listed and their condition and operation be examined, as a first step to improving them.
Mike then spoke of the broken down state of about 500 m of the west Thames bank above Tumbling Bay. See Building on Success. Water pours out of the river here when river levels are high, further damaging the bank in the process. We are concerned that this water may make flooding worse in the Botley Road area. The effect of the water leaving the river, compared to what would happen if it did not do so, should be investigated. As the breakdown worsens with each episode, one can expect that before long the entire bank over the 500m length will be affected – that situation should also be looked at. The bank could be repaired fairly easily.
Resilience and insurance
Nick Hills stressed that the time to install flood resilience measures in your house is when work is being done anyway – including of course after a flood. And that people should make sure this happens, not leave it to insurers – they tend to put back what was there before, chipboard floors and carpets included. Ask that the money be made available to you to spend as you see fit – see articles by Peter Rawcliffe and Nick Hills.