We did our best says Wiltshire Council boss

First published in News

Wiltshire Council deputy leader John Thomson believes the council did the best it could to plan for the floods which affected Malmes-bury and north Wiltshire but said it was exceptional weather.

He said the council delivered more than 4,000 sandbags across the county and said sandbags were delivered to Malmesbury before the flooding occurred.

Coun Thomson, who represents Sherston, said four inches of rain fell in four days in Pinkney, compared to one inch in the whole of March.

He said: “We did everything we could beforehand. The trouble was the fields were saturated and the water ran into the river and it roared down into Malmesbury.

“Everyone was so surprised by the speed at which the water rose.

“A lot of the houses in Malmesbury have professionally fitted flood gates and they were overwhelmed. People in Malmesbury have never seen the river so high.

“All the agencies did brilliantly, the fire, police, ambulance and the council. It was a huge challenge and we had teams working 24 hours. We had 17 highways teams clearing trees off roads and pumping water away.

“I think we have done quite well. I am sure we could have done better and we will be reviewing what we did. When you are flooded it is never enough. Walking through raw sewage in your home is terrible.

“Everything that was humanly possible was done. It was exceptional weather.”

He said the council would talk to the Environment Agency to see if anything can be done with the River Avon to prevent flooding.

Coun Thomson is also chairman of Malmesbury Area Board and under delegated powers he has approved a £500 grant to Malmesbury Football Club whose ground was flooded.

The Area Board will also use money in its budget to buy second hand cookers and fridges to help families affected by the floods.

Flooding minister Richard Benyon visited Malmesbury on Sunday to see the flood damage for himself.

He said: “In Malmes-bury last weekend, I saw for myself the absolute devastation the flooding has brought to people’s homes. I can only pay tribute to the admirable way the community has pulled together at this miserable time, and to the tireless efforts of the local Environment Agency and emergency services to keep people safe and prevent further flood damage.

“We’re doing all we can to protect homes and businesses from flooding, and expect to protect another 145,000 properties by 2015.”

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