Volunteers band together to fight the flood
When it comes to rising flood water, The Willows estate, Aylesbury, is ready to rise to the challenge.
A new detailed Deployment Plan has been drawn up to protect the 450 homes from the risk of flooding from the Stoke Brook that runs past the estate.
Residents, volunteers and council officers are ready to spring into action if bad weather threatens rising water levels. And they'll press into action temporary flood defences residents bought with £245,000 of pooled Government compensation from damage when the river burst its banks in February 2014, flooding 79 homes. The equipment - six heavy duty pumps and portable flood barriers - have undergone trials since it arrived last year.
Now residents, Buckinghamshire County Council, and Aylesbury Vale District Council have drawn up a plan to ensure it's used safely, correctly and at the right time. When the risk of flooding is high, County Hall's emergency planning team will raise the alert and co-ordinate a team of duty council officers and volunteers to transport and set up the flood defences.
The volunteer four-wheel-drive group BORG has offered to take equipment from the council's Griffin Lane depot to the Willows where a waiting team of volunteers drawn from residents Town, District and County Councils, will set it up led by two duty deployment staff.
The deployment plan is the result of several months of discussion between councils, voluntary organisations and community groups.
County Councillor Steve Lambert, one of the volunteers who with Town and District Councillor Mike Smith, will be ready to turn out in an emergency, said it was a great example of residents and the councils working together to create a resilient plan when bad weather threatens a flood. "And I hope we never have to use them!" he said.
Gary Wade, who has steered the residents' flood action group from flood disaster in 2014 through the clear-up and the purchase of the defences said he was very grateful for the efforts of all who had worked to create the deployment plan.
"Now, as residents, we need to get stuck in, roll up our sleeves and help wherever we can," he said. Billy Stanier, AVDC Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste, said: "None of this could have happened if residents hadn't pooled their compensation money to buy the equipment. This has been a very good collaborative effort."
Warren Whyte, Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment, praised the co-operation of all the participating groups.
"Now we have a common response plan, it'll be quicker to deploy the flood defences," he said. "Now everyone has a clear idea of who does what in an emergency, and I'm delighted everyone has bought into the plan."
He said the county and district councils will share the cost of training the volunteers, and a date for a practice day will be set later in the spring.
Warren stressed: "These are temporary measures. We're continuing to investigate a long-term flood management solution. We don't want to be still manning the pumps in 20 years!"
IN THE PICTURES:
Prepared for rising water: Warren Whyte, Billy Stanier, Mike Smith and Gary Wade with an emergency pump at The Willows
Flashback to 2014: local county councillor Steve Lambert with the rising flood water at The Willows