MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF RAWRETH PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON 2nd FEBRUARY 2011 AT 7.30pm AT THE VILLAGE HALL RAWRETH
Appendix A Prentation by the Environment Agency, including questions and answers.
244. PRESENTATION BY THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY - Pete Downes of the EA introduced himself to everyone and explained that his position within the EA is Operations Delivery. PD confirmed he would be happy to answer any questions from the public but explained that anything falling outside his remit would have to be referred to the relevant department within the EA. On this point it was agreed that the Clerk for Rawreth PC would take notes of the discussion and presentation and would forward these to PD to allow him to refer the matters he had been unable to deal with. Within the notes below the questions for referral are shown in bold.
PD began by stating that the recent floods in Parish over the week 17th January 2011 were the ordinary repetitive floods we see in this area. PD confirmed on this occasion they were made worse by the high tide as tides do influence the floods in this area, and as such, it will happen again.
PD then explained the areas of the Parish where the EA had undertaken work, these areas were in
Cllr Alistir Matthews asked PD if it were true that one landowner had refused permission for the EA to work on their land. PD advised this was not true. PD explained that the entire section was cleared but some areas were walked therefore not all areas had machinery used on them. The areas that were walked were areas where there were no trees and so no silt build up. PD confirmed that whilst the work was being undertaken all opportunities to stop flooding of the road were looked at, including the possibility of putting retention ponds on the land at Image Depot.
Don Abbey then asked PD how many private properties are in the area of
PD explained that areas are all worked on budget, and although in
Roy Hart then asked PD if the EA won’t do the work and property owners are prepared to do it themselves at their own costs, is this not a moral issue and are they wrong to do so. PD replied that all property owners have the right to undertake the work, but to make it legal it has to be done with the permission of the EA (as above).
PD then advised that the road bridge in
At this point RH defended the lock gates on his land stating they were not adding to the flooding problems in the Parish. DA and PP said they are a major contributory factor.
PD explained that at the present time the EA cannot dredge the brook despite the fact that some funding had been available. PD explained that at the moment Japanese Balsam is growing in the silt, and in addition the EA have been advised that Water Voles are present and therefore an ecological survey needs to be undertaken in the spring to ascertain if this is true. Funding for dredging was for this current Financial Year ending 31st March 2011. PD then explained that because of the delay, it may mean that if an all clear to dredge is given, the funding may not be available.
Several residents responded stating that despite the historic flooding of
At this point RH repeated an offer that was made to the Parish Council that he would dredge the brook at his own cost, if the Parish Council wanted him to, RH said the money was available, the work would take approximately ten days and he would need to start within the next four weeks.
PD reminded RH of a conversation they had had outside of the meeting and that because of the possibility of the presence of Water Voles, no work could be undertaken to dredge the brook, and doing so could lead to prosecution.
PP explained to PD that the road and properties had never been flooded due to a high tide. PP stated that there is too much uncontrolled water running into the river and that a risk assessment needs to be done and should have been done. PP stated that development is to blame. PP then asked PD when the EA took over risk assessments of flood areas from local councils. PP had been told it was in 2000, was this true, and if so why in 2002 was the A130 constructed without a risk assessment?
PP explained that prior to the A130 being constructed the Parish Council chairman at the time had suggested that lagoons should be placed each side of the river crossing, his suggestion was based on research undertaken by him, in his engineering capacity and warnings were given of the potential dangers of not allowing for water run off. The suggestions where not listed and lagoons were placed in an entirely different place. Why are those lagoons empty when the road is flooding and why does the water from the A130 run straight into
PP stated that water should be controlled before it goes into the watercourse and that local councils do not know the calculations of what water goes into the brook system or what water flows through the lock at Battlesbridge because they have never been done. PP asked PD to find out what the spare capacity of the brook is, PP said these calculations need to be done as errors in the past have caused the problems experienced in the area.
PD asked what residents felt could be done to improve things, he was told,
a. control the water going into the ditch, not only in this area, but Shotgate, Benfleet Pitsea and Rayleigh as they all run into the same ditch system.
b. fit a new depth gauge on the bridge as it has been missing for years.
c. give greater consideration to Rawreth Parish as we are a different entity given that we suffer from fluvial and tidal flooding risks.
d. there is a valve missing at the end of the pipe and water backs up the ditch, can the EA replace it? PD confirmed that the EA do not own the pipe, therefore the repair needs to be done by the landowner/3rd party. Can the EA not do this as they know there is a problem?
e. dredge the brook, there is evidence of the Crouch silting rapidly because of growth, the brook is half the width it use to be. Tidal flooding is less of a danger to the Parish, we are at greater risk of fluvial flooding because water flow is restricted.
f. look at the level of the first pipe past the bypass bridge, if it differs 17” from the other side.
PD stated that the rainfall in January had been forecast as 6mm and infact 30mm fell, so a lot of people were caught out, Cllr Mary Beckers stated that flooding has affected the Parish for over ten years and something now needs to be done. PD said he was open to suggestions.
PD was asked are RDC aware of the problems in
Alan Stone then asked PD how the Flood and Water Management Act of 2010 would affect this area. AS stated that money had been given to local councils, of which Essex CC is one, to assist them in flood defence and maintenance. AS quoted the figures of £218,000 for 2011/2012 and £585,000 for 2012/2013, how is it linked to the EA?
PD then explained about the EA external website and how it works. PD explained that the website http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/ shows how the operations delivery team works and tells you everything about PD and his team. The site shows who’s who, what they do, where they are working etc. PD then gave us some important system numbers, S059 is our identification number for the seawall section, 5060 is our identification number for Beeches Farm section and S061 is our identification number for the Hullbridge section.
PD explained that regular maintenance work is undertaken in this area, all this can now be seen on the website which shows schedules of work and areas. PD explained that every 6 months the seawalls are walked and inspected. Any area that is inspected is evaluated to show if any element of the system is failing, for example if an area is rated 4 and within 2 years has dropped to a rating of 2, maintenance work must be undertaken. Rivers are inspected every 2 years to look at the structure, not at the water course. Routine work on the rivers includes cutting back of growth which has recently been seen in
PD explained that the maintenance programme of the EA sets the standards of work, when cutting is done it is the bed of the water course, overhanging branches and then 1m up each side of the bank.
PD explained that the EA do not own the river banks or the sea wall. These are owned by 3rd parties/landowners, who are entitled to clear the brooks and ditches if they get permission from the EA first.
PD also explained that anything thrown or dumped in the river is now the responsibility of the local district council, the EA will only respond if the problem will cause a significant risk.
The Clerk Hayley Bloomfield then asked PD about the EA flood warning scheme. Why given the past two years flooding events in the Parish do we not receive warnings? HB advised PD that she is the registered number with the EA for flooding warnings, yet she had only ever received one, and this was not during the last three years. PD did confirm that the fluvial flood warning trigger for the parish was actually situated in Wickford, and Southend for tidal flooding. HB asked why, and could a more relevant trigger point be given? HB then asked if the Parish is not receiving warning signals despite the fact that they are at risk and are flooding is the EA actually recording the incidents of flooding in the Parish? and will they be used when the EA is considering the requests from developments and the district council to build more houses. HB asked if the incidents are not being recorded because no flood warnings are being given, how will the EA assess the impact of new housing correctly if their system information is not complete? HB asked if residents give the EA historic information of flooding, in 2000. 2001. 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, will these be added to the EA system retrospectively? HB also asked, if the trigger point is not moved how do the Parish Council and residents let the EA know they are flooding? PD confirmed there is a number that should be used and an EA inspector, normally he will then attend to assess the situation, PD confirmed he would give the number to HB to circulate.
General question for PD to answer.
a. when does a watercourse become a river?
b. do the EA class the head of the river as the
c. the North bank of the seawall was looked at and repaired and it was stated that within 5 years the South bank would be done, it hasn’t been, when will this work be undertaken?
PD closed by telling us Rawreth PC, identification number 5148 is listed from inspection reports as a high priority and it is stated that it is crucial the water courses are looked after. Having said that all EA reports state that the condition of the structures and watercourses are level 3, if they fall to level 2 or 1 they require work.
PD will continue to liaise with the Clerk and will respond through her to the questions raised.
Members, the Clerk and residents thanked Pete for attending.
NOTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON THE 27TH OF JANUARY 2011, BETWEEN ECC TRADING STANDARDS, ECC HIGHWAYS,
VENUE. TELFORDS FARM,
Present: MATTHEW SANCTUARY ECC TRADING STANDARDS
ANDY DELLAR ECC HIGHWAYS
SGT STEVE JOYNES
PC WYN SHARP
PC EMMA CHAMBERS
CLLR ANGELINA MARRIOTT HULLBRIDGE PARISH COUNCIL
CLLR ALISTIR MATTHEWS RAWRETH PARISH COUNCIL
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the ongoing going issues surrounding the weight restriction in
Everyone introduced themselves and Cllr Lyn Hopkins opened the meeting by thanking everyone for attending.
PC Wyn Sharp advised everyone that following the recent Neighbourhood Action Panel meeting , the enforcement of the 3T weight restriction in
Andy Dellar from ECC Highways gave everyone an insight into the legalities of the road, Andy advised that in 1972 an Environmental Order was placed on the road which imposed a 3T weight limit along the entire length of Beeches Road and Watery Lane unless vehicles had a valid reason for using the road, ie entering a site etc. This order was then deemed to be invalid because of the number of years it has been in force and despite the best efforts of ECC Highways the order was not allowed to be renewed and therefore an alternative order had to be put in place. The solution was the current order which prohibits vehicles in excess of 3T from using
Matthew Sanctuary advised that since October 2010 ECC Trading Standards had regularly attended the site, but they do not have the power to stop vehicles, they can record their number plate details and issue them with a warning, but until the police became involved, no fixed penalties could be issued.
Matthew advised that the biggest culprit is the “white van man” and most are using the road as a shortcut for deliveries.
Matthew advised that for a first offence, if TS are alone on site they identify the owner and driver of the vehicle and issue a written warning. If they are accompanied by the police and the vehicle is stopped, a fixed penalty notice of £30 is issued, with the vehicles details being recorded by TS. If a vehicle is then found to have already breached a weight restriction order anywhere in the County, TS may consider prosecution. The maximum fine on successful prosecution is £1,000 and TS have taken cases resulting in fines between £500 and £950.
A couple of problems that Matthew highlighted were the fact that currently TS cannot access their own data base whilst they are on the site, so they cannot tell if a vehicle is committing a first offence or not, secondly, they cannot access Essex Police database, so they are not aware of any recorded related offences, at this point PC Emma Chambers commented that because the fixed penalty notices are not recorded as an endorseable offence they will not show, she said that 30 tickets could be issued to the same person, and there would be no record, this was quite a worrying factor as this showed how easy it would be to continually breach the order unless both databases are shared.
Matthew then went on to discuss the possibility of looking at a zero tolerance policy for HGV’s caught contravening the order, ie if a HGV lorry (>7.5 tonnes) breached the limit, prosecution could be the first line of action, rather than a warning as all HGV drivers are trained to a higher level than car drivers and given the size and weight of the vehicles they are driving should acknowledge and adhere to the warning signs. This suggestion was warmly welcomed by all.
Matthew advised that on average 12 to 14 vehicle an hour contravene the weight restriction, and this is one of the worst roads in the County.
PC Emma Chambers advised that there are 25 recorded incidents in the road, only one of which is classed as a major, the others are slight or driver error, none are recorded as having involved an overweight vehicle, save for the one “slight” in December 2010.
Alistir Matthews asked Andy Dellar if it was true that ECC Highways are looking to strengthen the bridge, Andy replied it has been looked at, but several more costings etc would need to be done, and then it would have to have approval. Andy advised that it is one of a number in the County that have been discussed but he is not aware how far down or up the list this particular bridge features. Everyone agreed that if the bridge is strengthened the problem of contravention of the notice would be eradicated, but the number of very heavy vehicles using what is essentially a country lane would increase and the road is not designed for such use, leading to a whole new problem. Alistir then raised the question of whether the other two bridges in the road are strong enough and Andy agreed these would need to be looked at.
A general discussion then took place about different suggestions to combat the contravention of the restriction, suggestion put forward, together with thoughts, and answers, and where action or further investigations need to take place, who would undertake them.
The meeting then moved onto other matters concerning the road but before doing so, Hayley passed on thanks from the Parish Council and residents who have noted the high level of police presence in the road, and that of Trading Standards, and said that residents did appreciate what was being done to try and stop the offenders. Hayley also thanked everyone for meeting.
Hayley then asked Andy Dellar about road closures, and in particular who is responsible for closing
Alistir explained that given the position of this farm, and the closeness of the community, the Parish Council would always know before any other party of a flood threat because warnings came from the properties in
Lastly Hayley advised Andy that currently