Council launches independent review on Wainfleet floods

Environment Agency engineers on site along the River Steeping reinforcing repairs to the river bank. ANL-190625-074914001
Environment Agency engineers on site along the River Steeping reinforcing repairs to the river bank. ANL-190625-074914001

Lincolnshire County Council is to launch an independent review to reassure residents following the Wainfleet flooding, after a £96,000 underspend was revealed on its flood management budget last year.

Thousands of people were forced out of their homes when heavy rains led to the River Steeping bursting its banks on June 12.

Nearly 600 homes were evacuated, with some people not expecting to be able to return for months.

Around half of those evacuated were allowed to return to their properties last Friday and emergency planners have since begun a recovery process.

However, questions are now being asked, especially after it was revealed the council, which is the Lead Local Flood Authority, had an underspend of £96,000 on its flood management budget last year.

Officials said this was because the budget is for response spending, and just 21 flood incidents were recorded in 2018/19.

However, 40 separate investigations have been started in the past two weeks due to heavy rainfall, much of which devastated Wainfleet.

Council leader, Martin Hill, said a review will now be launched into how to protect the village from further flooding. “On Sunday, I saw for myself the devastation the floods have caused the community of Wainfleet,” he said.

“I’d like to reassure residents that we will have an independent review to find out what happened, and what needs to be done to protect the village in the future.

“We are committed to investing in our flood and water management in the county, reducing the risk of flooding for our residents.”

The Environment Agency (EA) has now begun permanent repairs to the river bank. The EA has also installed equipment and CCTV at the breach location to monitor the river level.

Work on a more permanent solution continues, and steel sheet piling will be installed, which will take some weeks. As the announcement it was finally safe to return home was made, Assistant Chief Constable Shaun West, chairman of the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum, said: “The emergency services, our partners and volunteers have been working around the clock to get people back in their homes and I’m happy to announce it is safe to return.

“We appreciate that this has been an emotional and distressing time, and our organisations will be providing ongoing support.”

MP Matt Warman is also to host a public meeting on Thursday, July 4, at the Coronation Hall in Wainfleet. For more on this and how the community of Wainfleet has begun to rebuild their town, see tomorrow’s Standard.