Dedicated pump for Earl Street

The link provides an excellent report, including a video, about the arrival of a new pump, dedicated to flood protection for Earl Street.  In case that stops being available online here is an extract from the report, with acknowledgement and thanks to ITV:

“Today residents in Earl Street were shown a new, dedicated, mobile pump that will be available to them in the event of future floods.

Nick Hills, an Earl Street resident and member of the Oxford Flood Alliance Steering Group, applied for a grant to pay for the pump after becoming aware of Scottish and Southern Energy Network’s Community Resilience Fund. The energy company awards grants of up to £20,000 to community projects. His bid was successful and SSE awarded the full cost of the pump, which had been reduced to £19,830 by Stuart Pumps Ltd, which provides the City Council with its pumps.

Whilst we in Earl Street have been extremely well served by the local authorities in terms of flood avoidance, protection and resilience, there have been occasions in the early stages of a flood when we were desperately waiting for a decision to be made by both the Environment Agency and the City Council as to where they should deploy their limited number of mobile auxiliary pumps.
Understandably, it was impossible for either of these agencies to guarantee that we would have a pump deployed here in Earl Street while the situation was still evolving.
Now we have our own pump, as soon as the water starts to rise, we can say ‘can we have our pump?’ and it guarantees that it will be here when we need it.  – Nick Hills

Local MP, Nicola Blackwood, attended the pump’s unveiling today. She said while shorter-term flood projects like this are crucial, a planned flood relief channel will be a ‘game-changer’ when it comes to reducing flooding risk in the long-term.The £120m project would work by diverting flood water across the open flood plain and away from properties which currently flood.”

Finally, a big thanks from all concerned to Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks, who very generously funded the pump from their Community Resilience Fund.

Oxford’s MPs

Congratulations to Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon) and Andrew Smith (Oxford East) who have both retained their parliamentary seats in yesterday’s general election.

Flooding presents a real threat to the welfare of the people and city of Oxford. Climate change is likely to increase that risk in future. Both our MPs have already expressed their support for the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme. We look forward to continuing to work with them and others on this so-important multi-partner project.

The scheme could become a reality within this next parliament: that would be fantastic for the city we are so lucky to live in, helping to ensure it continues to thrive.

Prime Minister visits Oxford

PM visiting Oxford_Dec2014

From L: Barry Russell (EA); Nicola Blackwood, MP; David Cameron, Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, visited Oxford today. This was related to an announcement that £42 million should be available to the Oxford FAS. While this was anticipated, as Flood Defence Grant in Aid money allowable for the proposed project, to have it announced in this public way is very welcome as it adds impetus and weight to the proposal.

It does not imply though that the Scheme is a done deal: there is a rigorous assessment procedure and further public consultation to be gone through before the Treasury finally decides whether the project should go ahead.

It is also the case that no specific scheme, formally proposed, exists yet: that is still being worked on.

It was good to meet the new Chairman of the Environment Agency, Philip Dilley.

South Hinksey demo

IMG_6138 South Hinksey demo

25 October 2014
Successful South Hinksey ‘demo’ to press for temporary barriers should flooding come again. OFA supported the PC and community – who are asking for preparatory groundwork to be done by the Vale District Council. The village will provide volunteers to erect the barrier. Well over 100 people came from throughout the parish, plus OFA Steering Group members, and formed a ‘human barrier’. Our MP Nicola Blackwood, our Labour PPC Sally Copley and our LibDem PPC Layla Moran were all there supporting us. The event was reported, with photograph, in the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times.

Our MPs’ views

May 2014

Oxford MPs Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West & Abingdon) and Andrew Smith (Oxford East) have been very active on flooding, both in supporting people and in lobbying for action to reduce it. Flooding does not recognise political boundaries and our MPs have worked together when appropriate, to good effect. They have both supported our own efforts, for which we thank them. Here they give us their current views:

Joint Statement from Nicola Blackwood MP (Oxford West & Abingdon) and Andrew Smith MP (Oxford East)

The human and economic cost of the flooding our local communities must endure every year is totally unacceptable. Our city and surrounding villages urgently need long-term, sustainable flood defences to protect homes and keep Oxfordshire open for business, rain or no rain. The Western Relief Channel will protect families and businesses from flooding and we hope that government, local authorities and business alike will work together to make it happen. At the same time, we must ensure that nearby towns at significant flood risk, like Abingdon, also get the long-term, strategic defences they need, and we will keep the pressure up to ensure that all residents in our constituencies can know that everything possible is being done to mitigate flood risk in the area.

Nicola Blackwood MP for Oxford West & Abingdon writes:

Overflowing Sewers

We need urgent action on our drainage infrastructure, a point which I have raised repeatedly with both Thames Water and the Environment Secretary. Hard-working local groups such as Oxford Flood Alliance and the Ock Valley Flood Group have done a great deal to highlight these problems. I held a half-day meeting with Thames Water in February to discuss the problems that have arisen in each part of my constituency and how this appalling state of affairs can be more effectively prevented in the future.

On flood prevention more widely

I am pleased that local flood defence measures implemented since 2007 have been successful this year in protecting people and property. But other properties have not escaped and countless residents have been affected in other ways such as disruption of road and rail transport, and loss of business. I continue to put pressure on local and central Government, response agencies and utility companies to improve and strengthen local defences further.

Watercourse maintenance

I have raised with the Secretary of State and the Environment Agency the issue of establishing more regular maintenance of key watercourses around Oxford, including the Hinksey and Osney Stream areas. Riparian owners must be encouraged to carry out maintenance along their river banks to keep the river working well. The Environment Agency can play a key role in advising and encouraging landowners to do this.


I have sent a series of written Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, asking that his Department look again at the importance of dredging.

Flooding is a very serious problem for Oxfordshire and what we need now are long-term solutions. I have been raising all of these issues locally and in Parliament and I will continue to do so. I will also remain in close contact with local people, flood action groups, Thames Water and the Environment Agency, vigorously representing the concerns of my constituents.

Andrew Smith MP for Oxford East writes:

Thanks. Throughout the flooding crises, I have kept in touch with residents and taken up concerns with the relevant agencies as well as raising questions in Parliament. I have greatly valued the advice and dedicated work of the South Oxford Flood Action Group and the Oxford Flood Alliance.

Sewerage problems

The worst impact of both episodes of flooding this year has been on residents unable to use toilets because of flood water – surface flooding and groundwater – inundating the sewerage system.  I visited residents in both of the areas affected in my constituency:  the Weirs Lane area and Western Road area.  I took this up with Thames Water at the time and subsequently, and have held a residents meeting. Thames Water have undertaken to clear up any sewerage residue in gardens, and to complete a general clean up of silt from affected sewers, coordinated with the councils responsible for a prior clean-up of surface water drains. The latter has to be done first, as matter from the council clean up often ends up in the sewers!  Thames Water have confirmed to me that they will complete a catchment area study of sewers in Oxford. I will continue to press for improvements.

The severity of problems in the Weirs Lane area was such that the City Council put Portacabin toilets and washing facilities in affected streets, and moved some vulnerable residents into alternative accommodation.

Other flood prevention measures

Each time there are floods lessons are learnt.  Properties have been saved from flooding thanks to the barrier and pumping operation in Vicarage Road and Lake Street, applying lessons of the 2007 floods.  It was noticeable the impact this year which the fire service pumping operation had in clearing water from Abingdon Road.  It raises the question of whether a bund alongside the allotments coupled with more pumping might reduce the flooding risk in the Weirs Lane area, and the City Council have assured me this will be investigated with the Environment Agency.


I have raised with government and the insurance industry the availability and affordability of household insurance for properties affected by flooding risk.  I have also helped individual constituents having difficulty with getting cover. I support the need of businesses also to have access to affordable insurance.

Flood insurance

29 June 2013

For months there have been cries from the back seat of ‘Are we there yet?’ and the reply ‘Very, very nearly’ from the government and the insurance industry. At long last an agreement has been reached, see Flood Re Briefing Note from the Association of British Insurers (pdf download). Both Oxford MPs, Andrew Smith and Nicola Blackwood, have been active in the House of Commons and behind the scenes in pushing for this. So has Brian Durham, member of the OFA Steering Group and Co-chair of the South Oxford Flood Action Group, SOFAG. Our thanks to them all.


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.

Sewer flooding

Sewer emptying 25.12.12

South Hinksey, Christmas Day 2012

25 December 2012

Overflowing sewers being emptied on behalf of Thames Water (TW) in South Hinksey on Christmas Day. A big thank you to the men doing the work for the last few days and right through the Christmas season.

Sewer flooding has been a problem in parts of Botley, North and South Hinksey and Kennington for some years, but notably worse in the last three or four. Heavy rain regularly results in manholes overflowing with foul effluent. Before and during the November river floods, sewage overflowed in large amounts in South Hinksey, into houses, gardens and streets. The contaminated effluent entered local watercourses – pollution reports have been filed by the Environment Agency. Nicola Blackwood, MP, called a Public Meeting in South Hinksey. In a packed hall, Thames Water apologised for what had happened, and that some failings of theirs had not helped. They agreed, among other things, to publish plans to address hydraulic overload, blockages and the upgrade of Littlemore pumping station, to include an overview of timelines.

In the threatened floods now, TW tankers have been in South Hinksey regularly to empty the sewers, making a great improvement on November. The community now awaits the promised plans. There must be serious problems somewhere, which desperately need sorting out, because the sewers overflow when there is no river flooding – and more seriously in the last few years.

The Abingdon Road area had very similar problems in the November floods, with tankers employed to relieve the sewers.

Sewers get overloaded in flood conditions in parts of the Botley Road area.

MPs visit flooded areas

30 November 2012

Our MPs, Andrew Smith and Nicola Blackwood, have visited flooded areas to see the problems and how defences were working.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: ‘The Environment Agency, City Council and Emergency Services have done a good job.  I saw for myself the effectiveness of the barrier by Hinksey Lake and the pumping operation in Vicarage Road, where we had 3 feet of water in 2007. The measures pressed for by the Oxford Flood Alliance and put in place have made a big difference; but it is all still on a knife-edge, and we must all keep up the pressure for more works to reduce the risks still further’.

Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, visited areas on the Botley Road and in South Hinksey before moving on  to Abingdon. She saw flood defences working well at Bullstake Close, Botley Road. In sharp contrast, in South Hinksey there was flooding of seven houses, with water which seems very likely to have been contaminated by overflowing sewers. Ms Blackwood is taking up this and other issues on behalf of residents.
Sewers and/or surface water systems appear to have been overloaded too in the Grandpont area, and parts at least of the Botley Road area. This is of great concern and demands urgent investigation and remedy.