‘Lessons to be learnt’ on council flood action

Photo Neil Cross
The River Ribble at 	Samlesbury overflows near the Brockholes nature reserve
Photo Neil Cross The River Ribble at Samlesbury overflows near the Brockholes nature reserve
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Flooded residents in South Ribble were let down by their confused and poorly-led council, a leaked report shows.

The council’s own scrutiny committee report was asked to compile the dossier in the wake December’s Storm Eva, which lays bare a series of failings, including:

- The council was slow to mobilise to respond to the situation and did not place relevant officers and services on standby

- Sand bags ran out

- The lead member for emergency planning was not briefed or kept up to date

- Communication was “too slow and ineffective”

- No information was provided to councillors

- There was confusion and delays in opening the Gateway Customer Service Centre.

Despite the criticisms, it was noted rest centres were mobilised in accordance with the emergency plan, the operational response was effective, and once up and running, the Gateway Customer Service Centre provided a good service.

A spokesperson for the council said it had not yet received any recommendations from the scrutiny committee as the review is still ongoing.

They said: “Members of staff gave up their Christmas break voluntarily to come into work and help those affected by the floods. Many affected residents have praised the council’s response.

“Emergency payments of £500 were made promptly to affected residents and the council is now processing flood resilience grants of up to £5,000 to help residents and businesses improve their property’s resilience against future flooding.

“The council strives for continual improvement. In January an internal de-brief report made eight recommendations on how we could learn from the experience. Progress has been made on each of these recommendations and the council has also mapped the areas of the borough affected, feeding into the multi-agency Making Space for Water Group.”

But Labour leader Coun Paul Foster said: “I am disappointed to hear about another failing by South Ribble Council that further highlights serious mismanagement at a senior leadership level.”

The reportis due to be made public on July 21.