Flooded road summit call comes on the day Welney Washes is opened
PUBLISHED: 09:41 25 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:41 25 February 2014
On the day a water logged road was re-opened after 59 days Steve Barclay MP announced plans for a multi agency summit to review flood planning in the Fens.
Landlords of the Lamb and Flag pub, whose trade has been massively hit by the closed road on the A1101 at Welney Washes, were relieved to get back to business as normal after almost two months watching their trade slump forcing them to cut back their six staff to skeleton hours.
The road was re opened at lunchtime on Monday (24) on the same day that Mr Barclay called for a meeting to bring together water management agencies.
The meeting comes as Norfolk County Council and Cambridgeshire County Council plan to put up new digitalised road signs warning motorists in advance if the washes road is shut. The signs were due to be installed last month but the plan could not go ahead because the road was flooded.
Georgina Webb, landlady of the Lamb and Flag, said: “Thank God it’s open - sixty per cent of our trade has dropped so it has come in the nick of time.”
The road has been shut since December 27 and the knock on has become a way of life, she said.
“It used to happen now and then but the flooded road has become a part of life. As a business we can’t keep taking the brunt like that,” she said.
Mr Barclay has called for a meeting to bring together the Middle Level Commission, the Environment Agency and the NFU with local authorities and internal drainage board officials.
The meeting, on March 21 in the South Fens Business Park, Chatteris, will review the current water management programme, budgets, and any areas of concern, to identify where the lessons of recent events can be applied.
Mr Barclay said: “Despite the devastating scenes in the Somerset Levels and elsewhere, the Fens have coped well in recent months with the high levels of rain. Thanks go to those working locally for internal drainage boards, the middle level commission staff and the local Environment Agency workers who manage the risk of flooding in our area.
“It is important we learn the lessons for our area from what has happened in areas where flooding has occurred. This is not as simplistic as just suggesting more dredging although it is likely that we need to look more closely at the dredging operations across Fenland waterways. We need also to be mindful of wider river management and of damage to banks caused by badgers and rabbits.
“The agenda will look at the Ouse Washes, where the A1101 road closure at Welney continues to cause disruption, as well as discussing the ongoing work on the Whittlesey Washes.
“The summit is not just about the problems we have seen in recent weeks but also involves looking at future potential issues. For example drought conditions may not seem an issue today, but it is a real risk in the future and I want to ensure we avoid damage to crops and higher food prices should prolonged drought conditions occur in the years ahead.”