Julian Brazier requests meeting with Southern Water

Julian Brazier has circulated an update to the affected Councillors and Parish Councillors regarding the current Nailbourne flooding. He has requested a meeting with Michael Wright, CEO of Southern Water.

Text of the letter as follows:

“I wanted to write to you about flooding and related issues. The Environment Agency contacted me several weeks ago to warn that the waters were going to rise, and I have been out to see what they were doing in Barham, at Railway Hill, where the problem first emerged. I was encouraged by my visit, as it seemed to me that they had the situation in hand, with contingency plans in place, sandbags stocked and close contact with the Little Stour and Nailbourne River Management group, as well as their helpline and website. It was particularly encouraging that they have full ownership of flooding as, in the crisis twelve years ago, the worst single problem was that responsibility for tackling flooding was split between lots of agencies. Nevertheless the one major concern outside their ambit remains sewage infrastructure.

As there has already been too much water, we have had emergency pumping in several sites, as you probably know. This is unfortunately essential as, despite infrastructure work, the sewers get overwhelmed, so the priority is to pump water away so that people in the affected areas can continue to use their baths, sinks and lavatories.

I have written to Southern Water’s Chief Executive, Matthew Wright, asking what steps he is taking to solve the problem as I am concerned that the pumping is used as the stopgap, where the real solution would be a significant investment in capital spending in the area. Andy Shaddick’s updating letter crossed with mine, but he has given me an update on the work they are doing, which is to continue pumping, and work with the EA and local bodies to resolve the situation.

We cannot continue with a situation whereby sewer water is pumped, albeit screened, into the river and, as the Little Stour and Nailbourne River Management Group have pointed out, this is the fourth time in twelve years.

Southern Water are just about to increase their water bills, citing a need to increase infrastructure work. I believe that the Nailbourne course is a priority, and have asked for a meeting with Southern Water to discuss how they can make our area a priority. Andy Shaddick notes that they have carried out extensive sewer sealing in the area, including more than 1km, to reduce infiltration, but their options are limited in dealing with the extra flow. I will continue to keep you posted.”