Flood defence delays leave businessman out of pocket

Flood alert: Mark Fishwick, owner of Penwortham MOT Service & Repair Centre
Flood alert: Mark Fishwick, owner of Penwortham MOT Service & Repair Centre
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A garage owner who has been unable to work for almost five months said he is becoming “increasingly frustrated” in his decade-long call for a flood defence wall.

Mark Fishwick, who has run Penwortham MOT Centre in Leyland Road for 13 years, saw his business devastated within minutes when the River Ribble burst its banks on December 5.

It was the realisation of a decade-long fear that he tried to prevent by asking authorities for a barrier between the river and his business opposite.

Mark said: “It was a nightmare that day, within five or 10 minutes the whole garage was flooded and all the equipment was ruined. It’s all in the hands of the insurance company, but we’re talking at damage in excess of £100,000.

“Everyone was talking about Penwortham Holme flooding, but I was forgotten about.

“I haven’t been able to open since December and I’m losing business hand over fist, but I’ve continued to pay the two lads working with me because I don’t want to lay them off.”

Mark said he, and nearby allotment owners, had been asking for flood defences opposite his property, beside the banks of the Ribble, for 10 years.

He said: “There’s been an awful lot of to-ing and fro-ing between Lancashire County Council and South Ribble Council about who is responsible, and now it turns out that it’s the Environment Agency.

“All we have at the minute at the side of the River are a few trees, but if a wall was built, we could stop a lot of risk, and it could also be extended down to Penwortham Holme. Those playing fields can’t be used for half of the time because they’re flooded, and it’s no good the council doing lots of drainage work if there’s no protection from the river.”

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We are currently managing a project that is looking at the potential for improving flood defences in the Penwortham.

“However, any proposed works must be prioritised alongside other flood prone areas in the area and across England. We have a limited budget for flood defences and so we need to make sure that every penny spent protects the maximum possible number of homes and businesses.

“We are aware of Mr Fishwick’s position. We have spoken to him previously and have plans to meet him at his property for further discussions in the near future.

“It’s important that householders and business owners prepare a flood action plan to be as resilient to flooding as possible”

If you would like information about how you can protect your own home or business from flooding, visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood, or contact the National Flood Forum for independent advice.

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