Malmesbury Town Council has begun the process to formulate an emergency plan following the worst floods to affect the town in 70 years.

At an extraordinary town council meeting last  night councillors agreed to set up a working party chaired by town mayor Ray Sanderson and to include other town councillors, members of the community and retired police and ambulance chief Phil Selwood, who has offered his expertise for free.

The town council also agreed to set aside £5,000 towards measures identified in the emergency plan.

About 12 homes were flooded when the River Avon burst its banks on November 25 after torrential rain.

Coun Sanderson said: “We are going to be pro-active and show the community we do care as a council.”

Coun Sanderson said he intended the emergency plan to be produced quickly. As well as flooding, the plan would cover other emergencies such as snow.

Coun Simon Killane, who is also the Wiltshire councillor for Malmesbury, outlined specific measures that needed to be considered for inclusion in an emergency plan in the short and long term.

These included stocking sandbags, having access to pumps and dehumidifiers. He also thought a register of volunteers should be set up.

He and others also said the issue of maintaining the river and land drainage should be examined by the Environment Agency, Area Board and others.

Coun Sue Poole, who lives in St John Street where some houses were flooded, was applauded when she said: “One of the reasons I am convinced the flooding was as bad as it was was because the rivers are blocked. The Environment Agency agree something needs to be done.

"They need to clear the rivers. The river is choked with reed beds which were never there two or three years ago. Please can we work on getting that done?”

Fourteen members of the public attended the meeting in the town hall. Among them were three representatives of Waitrose, which wants to build a store in the town.