Malmesbury flooding back in the spotlight

4:00pm Friday 4th October 2013

By Victoria Latchman

Re-routing the river in Malmesbury was one of the more elaborate plans discussed by councillors this week in an attempt to reduce the risk of flooding.

The six-figure sum project would take years to complete, if it were to be approved, but the town council’s flood working party has been looking at various other ways to prevent the devastation caused by last year’s floods.

The report, by former mayor Ray Sanderson, and flood risk management expert Edwards Evans, along with Wiltshire Council and the Environment Agency, was discussed at a planning meeting last night.

Coun Sanderson said: “We are working with Wiltshire Council and the Environment Agency on some short-term and long-term goals which might take three or four years to implement.

“It just depends on costs. The Environment Agency is not going to spend £15 million to stop 15 houses getting flooded.”

The short-term plans include replacing the sluice gates at Cowbridge and scooping out Cuckinstool Mead by half a metre to provide a channel to draw more water towards the town bridge.

Coun Sanderson’s report identifies the need to increase the height of the footbridge to allow more water to pass through by lowering the bed, as well as the removal of some trees. The report also suggests having the left-hand arch channels of the town bridge dug out and cleared.

Funding for these initiatives will be sought from the town council and Wiltshire Council and, potentially, the Area Board.

Malmesbury suffered severe flooding in November 2012, with 20 properties in Lower High Street and St John’s Street being flooded. These included the historic St John’s Almshouses and Court Room. The report values the damage, in terms of average insurance pay-outs, as a total cost of £700,000 for the area.

Wiltshire and town councillor Simon Killane said: “Ray has done a lot of work. Now all that information will get put into a pot so that Wiltshire Council, the town council and the Environment Agency can sit round a table to verify that these plans will work and then decide how they can be funded, and how we can engage with the landowners.”

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