The Abingdon Blog

The Abingdon Blog is a photo record of events and places in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, started on January 1st 2006.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Flood Meeting

Dr Evan Harris MP organised a public meeting about flooding (today) at the Guildhall. Representatives of the Environment Agency (EA) gave a presentation, then Dr Harris, and the people in the audience quizzed them.

Last year the Environment Agency had said at an exhibition that the 2007 flood was now thought to be a one in 275 year event, not a one in 100 year event as previously thought, and so large scale flood protection measures for the River Ock (which flooded most of the houses in 2007) could not be justified. They also said there are now 90 houses that could flood (far fewer than previous estimates) one year in a hundred so insurance should be less of a problem for the others.

This meeting was the first chance to publicly question them on this. The one in 275 year predictions come from a £100,000 modelling exercise using the Halcrow river modelling software. When asked to justify these predictions the EA said the model was very complicated and difficult to explain, and involved putting in lots of data, but they are happy to explain it to individuals who have the time.

Halcrow are experts in computer modelling of real world events. Their slogan is "Complex River Systems - No Problem for Halcrow." But in this case their models do not predict what the non expert on the ground felt was the case . We were also confused by the EA saying a lot of the flooding in 2007 was from ground water ,when it was clearly the River Ock.


Blogger Martin G said...

I only found out about this a couple of days ago and I've already arranged to go out. Very frustrating!

19 February 2010 15:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I agree - did not know about this at all. Despite being flooded in 2007. Very interesting that an organisation with the resources of the EA cannot 'simplify' the mysterious modelling system and its predictions (used to basically get them off the hook about doing anything in Abingdon it would appear!) and enlighten us mere mortals about it.

I have spoken to flood victims from South Hinksey who have been told, by the EA, that they are a 1 in a 100 year risk and yet they have been flooded 3 times over an 8year period.

19 February 2010 23:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Backstreeter - how did you find out about this event? Was there any advance notice? I get the local paper e-news thing everyday in my email and there was no mention of it... likewise the Vale said they were distributing a survey about flooding recently but I didn't get it. I live on Ock Street so am pretty desperate for any info I can get on flooding. Please can people tell me how I can find out about things like this?

20 February 2010 11:48  
Anonymous Hester said...

As an ordinary member of the public who takes a close interest in local affairs I can say that I only heard about this from one person who posts on the Action4Abingdon forum and who has been persistently pressing for this meeting for over 2 years. He posts here as well so will no doubt tell us where he heard about it from but it sure wasn't the Town Council website (it did eventually appear there but only 2 days beforehand and not very prominently) or the Vale website or Evan Harris' or the LibDem websites(no mention on any of these). Nor the local paper, nor - as far as I could see - were there any notices up around town - not even outside the venue on the day! I had wondered if those living in the flood-affected areas had had direct notification, but it sounds as if they didn't. Some public meeting!

If you look at the Abingdon Diary (see link from this site) you will see information about most events going on but it is produced by volunteers and is dependent on people telling us about events. Also we can normally only update it weekly (but made an exception in this case when we did eventually get wind of it)

20 February 2010 14:02  
Blogger Backstreeter said...

I hear it was publicised in a Lib Dem sheet that should have been sent to houses in Ock Meadow, but the meeting came together at short notice. First I learned about it was the comment on action4abingdon, and then I got the full details 2 days before.

As to the flood survey. It went round in December - but this was done by the Ock Valley Flood Group. They had an initial meeting in February but will let people know when I hear of the next.

20 February 2010 18:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was publicised in a Lib Dem leaflet...but I think this arrived - either Weds or Thurs this week, meaning I couldn't attend.

20 February 2010 18:17  
Blogger David said...

As Hester said, I have been pushing for this meeting to happen for the past two years or so, so I was delighted to hear that it was finally being called by Evan Harris.

However, I share the disappointment of many that the organisation and publicity for the meeting was (there is no other word for it) shoddy.

I found out about it from the Liberal Democrat newspaper “Ock Meadow Focus” which was delivered to that ward earlier in the week. No criticism of the volunteer deliverers—they did their level best to get the newspaper out as early as they could. But the publicity was simply too little too late for most people, and anyone outside of South Abingdon would probably not have heard about the meeting at all. How short-sighted to assume that only people in South Abingdon are bothered about the effects of flooding on our town.

I posted about the meeting on the Action4abingdon forum and urged people to spread the word. Backstreeter and Hester did their best, but that late in the day there is only so much that you can do.

Because of this, it is no surprise that only about 16-18 members of the general public were at the flood meeting. I was there, and made comment about the lack of publicity and notice. Evan freely took the blame for this.

I am SO disappointed at this opportunity (largely) missed.

20 February 2010 18:25  

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