Flood plans on show

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RESIDENTS were able to have their say this week over controversial plans to spend millions of pounds on a flood protection scheme.

A drop-in afternoon was held at Market Weighton Community Hall on Monday, giving people the chance to look at the proposed scheme to protect the area around Mill Beck.

The Environment Agency (EA) are insisting that work be carried out to help protect the town from deluge, but locals say the chances of serious flooding in that area of the town are so remote that the scheme is a waste of money.

Many, including town councillors, feel that the money would be better spent on upgrading the town’s sewer system which continually fails to cope with regular downpours.

Indeed, drains become blocked and raw sewage has regularly spilled out into the streets, people’s gardens and in some cases, their homes.

The local councillors blame excess development, without consideration for the underground drainage, and have repeatedly called for cash to be spent on improvements.

But area flood risk manager for the EA, Kim Andrew, defended their decision to press ahead with their plans for Mill Beck, which could cost upwards of £2million.

“We’ve had a mixed reaction, but overall it’s been negative,” she explained.

“I do understand because I think there’s a range of flooding issues in Market Weighton, but this is a legal responsibility. The agency would not be legally compliant if we did not do this work.

“The drainage in the town is not something we have the power to do anything about. It’s a separate problem but I can see why people are getting angry.”

She explained that the area around Mill Beck, at the so-called monkey run and football pitch, is listed as a flood storage reservoir and is registered under the Reservoir Act 1975.

With the town centre also situated nearby, the beck area is classified as category A by the EA who insist it must be able to endure the most extreme weather.

However, residents are angry that the beck should even be classed as a river, and question why the football field and monkey run should be regarded as a flood storage reservoir.

Sheila Forbes, who lives on Millbeck Close nearby said: “The EA are still quoting the Reservoir Act of 1975, but if you look in the Oxford Dictionary you’ll see the description of river is nothing like our Mill Beck.

“There’s never been a serious flood there- there’s been inconvenience, but nothing major. There’s never been any loss of life or any serous damage to property. There’s a lot of bad feeling about this. It seems like a fait accompli.”

Mayor of Market Weighton, Councillor Peter Hemmerman has opposed the plans since they were first suggested. With the likelihood of a serious flood happening once every 10,000 years, Coun Hemmerman says that a catastrophic occurrence would sink the new defences anyway.

Speaking after Monday’s drop-in session, he said: “If it wasn’t so deadly serious it would be laughable that these obviously highly-qualified people are pursuing such a blatantly ridiculous concept and throwing away taxpayers’ money.”