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Action urged after flood chaos in Looe, Mevagissey and Lostwithiel

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: January 04, 2013

  • Lostwithiel floods pic by Dan Mullan

  • BOARDED UP: Properties barricaded against the floodwaters in Lostwithiel.

  • Drew Wallbank looks out from his flat above the flooded South Street in Lostwithiel. BOTL20121222A-005_C

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IN WHAT'S likely to have been one of the wettest years on record Cornwall's flood victims must be hoping 2013 will bring an end to the misery of the deluges.

Days before Christmas homes in Looe, Mevagissey and Lostwithiel suffered more flooding, ending a year plagued by downpours that left a trail of destruction and big clean-up bills for victims.

In Looe there have been calls for more spending on the county's roads after heavy rain caused a landslide which cut off part of the town for more than 24 hours in the run-up to the festive period.

Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall councillor for West Looe and Lansallos, said: "What we need is a huge amount of extra funding from central Government, not just ministerial visits and photo-opportunities.

"The landslip on Hannafore Road that blocked road access to Hannafore on December 22 highlighted how vulnerable this area of West Looe is and the negative effect this has had not only on people's lives but on businesses.

"I fear there will be a need for significant investment in Looe and Polperro."

Last year businesses were flooded out, with landslides and road closures in the town in recent months.

She said cuts, including to highway maintenance and coastal protection, had compounded the problems caused by the weather.

Her concerns included an inability to provide sandbags, blocked culverts, a lack of resources for drain-clearing and poor road surfaces.

"I hope all MPs in Cornwall can unite to put the case to central Government for additional funding to address the small selection of issues I have highlighted on my patch, let alone the rest of Cornwall, and work with Cornwall Council," she said.

"Prevention is better than cure, and often cheaper in the long run."

Meanwhile Looe's business community is continuing to urge visitors to come to the town despite the soggy saga.

Jono Hancock, 28, head chef at Trawlers on the Quay in East Looe, said: "We need to get the message out there that we're all open."

On the day before Christmas Eve Lostwithiel became the focus of international media attention after the town became a victim of severe flooding for the second time in two years.

Some residents had to be evacuated by boat after the River Fowey burst its banks and immersed low-lying parts of the town.

In the aftermath of the damage the Lostwithiel Flood Group has fired off a letter to the Environment Agency calling for more improvements to stop the flooding.

At a meeting next Wednesday the group will make its plea to the town council and other agencies involved.

Lostwithiel Flood Group co-ordinator John Pegg said: "The battle isn't yet over – plenty of rain forecast and also a super-big spring tide on January 13 lie ahead."

Staff at Trago Mills, near Liskeard, jumped into action and worked for more than 12 hours to protect the store from the flooding in the days before Christmas.

In Mevagissey the community has been "living on a knife edge every time it rains", in the words of the flood group's chairman Barry Wilton, who said he hoped 2013 will see a change in attitude and a united front to the fishing port's problem.

"We need to be more proactive and Cornwall Council needs to be more involved, rather than just carrying out regular maintenance," he said, expressing fury that residents were being called on to write business plans proposing viable solutions to stop the flooding.

He wanted the Environment Agency to dredge the river, he said: "With the amount of soil that's coming down, it's just silting up. The slightest bit of rain lands us in a flooding situation."

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  • Lynne121  |  January 04 2013, 9:58PM

    I noticed in your article a distinct lack of comments from Lostwithiel Town Council, but thats hardly surprising to those of us who actually live here. We pay THREE council tax rates for the 'priviledge' of living here and get nothing back in return for our hard earned money. If anyone from the Guardian newspaper would care to walk on Bodmin Hill or Duke Street there you will find almost every drain full to the top with debris, plants and grass....but the one directly outside the Mayors home is surprisingly empty!!!! I have lived here for almost eight years now and have to see anyone from County Council clearing out the drains. Its disgraceful and we seem to be going backwards in our outlook......are we going back to the days when we threw out our debris into the open streets? The River Fowey bed was once regularly dredged, and the ac***alated silt was used by local builders. Since this practise was stopped by Environmental Agencies in the late 1980's I believe, the Fowey has no where else to go after heavy rains or indeed high tides. Its not rocket science, bring some common sense into the scheme of things and then the poor people in this town don't have the dread of being flooded everytime it rains......sheeeeeeeesh!!!!!!

  • charliebravo  |  January 04 2013, 12:28PM

    A change in the law back in the 1990s took road sweeping away from highway authorities and gave it to local councils, the emphasis changing from protecting the drainage system to litter removal. Now all of the main roads outside towns barely get swept. The advent of Cornwall's unitary authority has not changed the old pattern of sweeping. For instance, the A374 near Torpoint has signs up saying it's a high risk accident site for motorcyclists but the road is covered in debris and detritus so that edge of carriageway road markings are obscured, kerbs are hidden under accumulated soil and drainage gullies are blocked with vegetation. If Cllr Hannaford wants to do something useful instead of wringing her hands and blaming lack of finance, she should make it her job to ensure that all roads are swept on a regular basis so that drains don't get blocked whenever it rain Simples!

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