For 7 months we were paused for Ms Fox's replacement, Ben Crampin, to complete his previous 6 year employment at Sussex Council and take up his new position with RBWM in early Summer.
He immediately took his holiday but I had a brief introductory meeting with him after his return in June 2022.
He's building a new team and has provided a new direct email address which can be found on the main ENVIRONMENT page under FLOODING CONTACT INFO or on the LOCAL INFO page under LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
In 2014 RBWM tried to start fulfilling the 6 year old requirement of Central Government to build a flooding and drainage database of their entire area of responsibility and appointed consultants WSP.
OGAFCA supplied a lot of data but unfortunately WSP weren't RBWM consultants much longer. The data we provided was updated in March 2020 and is available on OGAFCA's ENVIRONMENT page as OGAFCA Drainage Map 2020.
8 years later new funding was applied for to resurrect that Area Catchment Study. The funding has been approved but we are told to expect some delay for planning and to establish what might be achievable within that budget.
I recently asked for an update and was told the study has not yet started because additional funding is being sought to expand what can be done. I got a response within 48 hours which is a HUGE improvement on the 13 weeks of bygone times!
The unfortunate local Resident who was flooded last summer and obliged to move out of her home until just before Christmas is particularly anxious for the Catchment Study to proceed.
This is understandable as during one of the quarterly online RBWM meetings Project Centre described her property as being within the lowest contour line in the whole area.
The property next door called Pond House is a pretty good clue! She has not just waited for a repeat or for somebody else to do something. OGAFCA has tried to support her with ideas, suggestions, plans, drawings, and discussions.
The entire structure is now surrounded by a 4-course brick wall retaining raised flower beds with an entrance ramp from the pavement of the same height.
Over time water could build up within these defences so one-way valves and a sump pump have been installed and tested. We will try to encourage regular jetting of road gullies and improvement of the wide drainage ditch at the rear
as several properties in this spot are also vulnerable.
As OGAFCA's drainage bod I was asked to be available to provide information to a new Bray Parish Council drainage and flooding committee. I then found myself in an awkward position needing to challenge the Parish's treatment of a local Resident.
In May 2021 at an online RBWM meeting we raised the issue of the crucial main water route northwards out of Fifield via the Manor Grove culvert. That water course is in very poor condition and badly needs attention.
This land is the responsibility of the Parish Council. The current Resident of the adjacent property in Manor Grove had been trying for some time to get something done about it.
Email exchanges were in progress and assurances given that the Parish was aware, had arranged visits, had photographs taken and a survey report done.
The Resident was assured that the Council had discussed the matter and were currently looking for contractors to carry out the work.
The Resident and OGAFCA both suggested possible contractors but apparently those were never pursued. Much unproductive time later the Resident, becoming extremely anxious, engaged canal and waterway engineers at considerable cost, which she had to borrow.
Urgent work is now done but ground conditions need things to be allowed to settle for a bit before completion. After another long silence the Resident received a Solicitors' letter rejecting responsibility for any work carried out.
The letter included a reminder that any work on the watercourse is a shared cost! The Resident says she has never asked for money, has tried to speak to the Solicitors, and has left messages and emails with no reply.
This feels like a complete reversal of what was being said a year ago.
After raising this at the AGM I was invited to the Parish office where I was told of a combination of misunderstandings, work overload, and change-over of Parish Clerk.
I was told the Resident would be contacted with an explanation and invitation to visit the office for discussion. Thanks to the Parish Councillor and the new Clerk for their time but 4 weeks later (26.10.22) this had not yet happened.
In half that time Ben Crampin has contacted the Resident, arranged a meeting date, and now been to visit the Resident. It is very disappointing when the behaviour of the Parish falls below that of the Borough, which in this case has been exemplary.
OGAFCA has contacted the Parish to remind them of their undertaking.
There will always be additional problems ... like the situation at the Fifield Inn. In the longer term the main task is to pursue an overall plan that doesn't use private property as an excuse for doing nothing.
13 years of this and I am now far too old with failing energy so if there is a younger person out there inclined to help their Community and pick up the baton please step forward ... you are needed !