OFA Annual Public Meeting, 2012

9 November 2012

We held our fifth Annual Public Meeting last night. Each year we wonder if attendance will drop off as we get further from the last flood. That’s 5 years ago, but again we had an excellent turnout. We work by public consent, so it’s important to us that we have strong public support – we’re ready to go for another year. We were delighted to welcome both our local MPs, Nicola Blackwood and Andrew Smith, and Rodney Rose, Deputy Leader of the County Council, who has responsibility for flooding. The County is now the Lead Local Flood Authority and Rodney Rose represents the County on the important DEFRA Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.
Thank you to everybody who came.

OFA Annual Public Meeting, 2011

Our fourth Annual Public Meeting was held on 16 November 2011

We were delighted to welcome, as last year, Andrew Smith MP, County and City Councillor Susanna Pressel and City Councillor Colin Cook. A representative attended on behalf of Nicola Blackwood MP. Apologies were received from County Councillor Rodney Rose and City Councillor Oscar Van Nooijen. Last, but by no means least, about 75 members of the public came, an excellent attendance more than four years after the last flood.

The meeting began with the award of the sole OFA Flood Star of 2011 to Paul Kirkley. Paul works as an engineer for Oxford City. His professional skills, commitment, and cooperative way of working have been instrumental in turning ideas into practical flood relief projects which will help many residents escape the miseries of flooding.

2011 APM Paul Kirkley, Flood Star
Nick Hills presents Paul Kirkley (left) with the OFA Flood Star award

A review of the year included:
Nick Hills on the several measures now in place to protect Earl and Duke Streets, including the completion this year of the road hump at the north end of Earl Street (to be supplemented by a barrier on top during a flood) and a new route for flood water down Lamarsh Road, through Kingerlee’s land to the open meadows to the south. Nick also described the new flood culverts under Willow Walk installed this summer by the Environment Agency and originally suggested by OFA.

Andy Webber told us about the survey which he undertook of Castle Mill Stream. Following this survey the Environment Agency has cleared trees and debris from the channel at the northern end. We now await clearance under badly silted-up railway bridges, removal of sunken boats and a review of the operation of various weirs and sluices.

Paul Kirkley spoke about a possible scheme to reduce risk for residents on the east side of Duke Street, which in the process would further reduce risk for the whole Duke and Earl Street area.

Brian Durham gave an account of the problems of getting flood insurance and how a ‘DIY’ community flood risk assessment might help.

John Mastroddi told the meeting about developments at Munday’s bridge in Kennington, crucial to the drainage of the whole western flood plain. We have been campaigning about this for over four years. It now seems very likely that major improvements will be made here by Thames Water in the spring of 2012.

Richard Thurston spoke about Osney Island. Thames Water has added telemetry to the West Street Pumping station – so if their surface water pump fails, their control centre will receive immediate notification. The City Council’s scheme for property level flood protection in Bridge Street, Doyley Road and South Street (for which the funding is in place) is welcome news and should reassure many Islanders; finally, Thames Water has provided costs for the extension to the surface water drainage scheme (‘sump and pipe’) to relieve South Street and Bridge Street, but there is no funding as yet.

David Macdonald, local resident and senior hydrogeologist with the British Geological Survey, has been studying groundwater in our area for some years. He told us of a project he is leading which, if it is funded, will see Oxford have the UK’s first groundwater warning scheme, available to residents via the internet. OFA is supporting the application for funding of the scheme.

Peter Rawcliffe outlined the new central government funding arrangements for flood-related works. We discovered about three months ago that the Environment Agency had not applied for any money for Oxford under this new scheme. This came as a bombshell: so to remedy this appalling situation we have submitted suggestions to the EA for them to assess (this entails computer modelling) and then to apply the funding formula which tells one how much funding would be available. Proposals that score highly enough will be put forward for consideration by DEFRA’s Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. Proposals have to be in by the summer and the EA is working to that target. We hope to be able to let you know preliminary results soon.

2011 APM Andrew Smith MP

Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East (above), kindly thanked OFA for their hard work and success, and offered his continuing support.

Lamarsh Road scheme – almost there!

24 November 2010

On 9 November Oxford City Central & South West Area Committee agreed to reallocate the money for “public art” that Kingerlee are contributing as part of their development, to the flood relief measures that we have been advocating in Lamarsh Road instead. The suggestion to do so came from Kingerlee (see post of 15 October) and has doubled the amount of money available for flood relief from Kingerlee. The necessary work will now be done. Kingerlee will do the work themselves while they are doing their own work anyway, so overheads will be minimised. After further discussions between Kingerlee, the City and the County, Kingerlee have instructed their engineers to prepare a scheme and hope to start work early in the New Year.
THESE ARE THE (ALMOST) FINAL DEVELOPMENTS IN A CAMPAIGN WHICH HAS OCCUPIED MUCH OF OUR EFFORT FOR THE PAST YEAR AND MORE. THE OUTCOME IS SUCCESS. Many other people, from City, County and the Environment Agency, and of course Kingerlee, have also worked very hard to achieve this result. MP Nicola Blackwood has been interested and supportive.

Lamarsh Road plan – urgent!

18 August 2010

We met the EA recently about the proposal to make Lamarsh Road the route for flood water rather than Earl Street. Further modelling has been done by the EA but was not completed when we met. The modelling continues and we have asked this week for an update.
Our concern is that the model, on which decisions will be based, is completed, and a decision made, before the deadline of Kingerlee starting work on their site. Kingerlee are very cooperative but understandably have to proceed with their own work.
Our MP, Nicola Blackwood, is strongly supportive – but she too awaits a clear plan before she can make representations about funding.

We hope the EA will produce their advice in time. This has been under discussion for many months, it  is high time we had a clear opinion, advice, and a plan as appropriate, from the EA.

Reducing the Risk of Flooding of Earl and Duke Streets and Bullstake Close

21 July 2010

The following is being circulated as a flyer to residents of Earl and Duke Streets and Bullstake Close. Links are being emailed to our supporters.

Update from the Oxford Flood Alliance (OFA) on Progress in Reducing the Risk of Flooding of Earl and Duke Streets and Bullstake Close; July 2010

It is 3 years since the severe floods of July 2007, so it seems a good moment to report on progress made since then, but also to highlight a further project that requires the most urgent and determined action. OFA has worked hard, since November 2007, to make sure things have been done and we continue to do so.

How these streets flood

Earl and Duke Streets flood by a combination of water coming up through the ground, water coming up through the drains and water which arrives over the surface. Bullstake Close floods by surface water.

What has been done

Bullstake Close:
Oxford City Council built a wall around part of Bullstake Close to protect it from surface water arriving from north of the Botley Road. DONE, 2009

Earl and Duke Streets:
the Bullstake Close barrier will hold back flood water until it is overtopped. DONE, 2009

Thames Water and Oxford City have installed special valves which, when flooding threatens, can be closed to isolate the drains in Earl and Duke Streets from other local drains, taking the pressure off them. DONE, 2009

there are permanent pumps in Earl Street, installed by Oxford City (?) to pump accumulating floodwater away into the floodplain to the south. DONE, 2004

the gullies in the street have been altered so that that all now feed into the pumps, so enabling the pumps to work more effectively. DONE, 2010

a culvert has been installed by Oxfordshire County Council at the end of Duke Street and out into the floodplain to the south. This is to provide a route out for water running down Earl Street from the Botley Road. To streamline the flow of this water the pavement has been rounded off where Earl Street connects via an alley into Duke Street. DONE, 2009

a road and pavement hump built by Oxfordshire County Council across the Botley Road end of Earl Street to stop floodwater flowing down the street (until it is overtopped). PLANNED FOR 2010

a barrier across the path leading into the southern end of Duke Street to prevent water flowing into the street from Bulstake Stream which it has done in the past. UNDER CONSIDERATION

the City Council has suggested that residents at the southern end of the east side of Duke Street might like to consider property level defences for their houses. Property level defences means floodgates for doors and sealing off airbricks. If everyone got together and did this, this would make a barrier to stop water flowing into and through these houses from Bulstake Stream. This would directly protect the individual houses and, indirectly, their neighbours. It is possible that grants may be available to help with the costs of this, though current cuts mean this is uncertain. RESIDENTS WILL DECIDE WHETHER THEY ARE INTERESTED.

last but not least, providing an alternative route for floodwater in the Botley Road to get away downstream to the south. In the past it has flowed down Earl Street like a river. The alternative route proposed is down Lamarsh RoadUNDER ACTIVE AND URGENT CONSIDERATION.

Nicola Blackwood MP visits Earl Street

10 June 2010

Nick Hills, Richard Thurston and Peter Rawcliffe of OFA met our new MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Nicola Blackwood, in Lamarsh Road on Saturday 5 June. Nicola came to see and hear for herself about the severe and recurrent flooding of about 60 homes in Earl and Duke Streets, the reasons for it – and what OFA has proposed to reduce the risks of further flooding here.

We are delighted that Nicola has said she will support this initiative which could bring relief to many households. She is writing to the Environment Agency asking for details of the cost/benefit analysis, which is currently under way, as soon as it is completed. She will then help us to press for funding and urgent action with the three authorities involved: City, County and Environment Agency.