Flood defences in place at Bradford on Avon as Wiltshire stays on alert

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Temporary flood barriers in place at The Bullpit, Bradford on Avon, this morning Temporary flood barriers in place at The Bullpit, Bradford on Avon, this morning

Flood defences are in place at Bradford on Avon this morning, with eight flood alerts in place across the county after last night's heavy rain.

The Environment Agency arrived in Bradford on Avon last night to put flood defences in place and have been liaising with Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service to try and prevent the River Avon from flooding.

Paul Gainey from the Environment Agency said: “There was a real threat to flooding in the town. We did not want to see a repeat of what happened at Christmas.

“We needed to do something that was a bit more dramatic to protect the town so we decided to bring a demountable defence by the Bull Pit.

"It was a multi agency effort. We had to use the police to close the road while we offloaded it from the lorry.

“We hope to prevent a lot of people being flooded. We are going to keep it in place over the weekend until the risk is reduced.”

Bradford on Avon was swamped by the Christmas Eve floods and water levels have remained high during Wiltshire's wettest January in 64 years.

More heavy rain is expected this evening and through the weekend and among the other areas under flood alert this morning are Malmesbury, Warminster and Melksham.

John Potter, mayor of Bradford on Avon, said: “The Environment Agency. Fire and Police have all worked well in a team. They have done the best they can and whatever happens, it’s better than doing nothing.

"They are trying to get some more barriers the other side of the river but at the moment the risk has dropped.

"We would like to have them here in the town, perhaps at the fire station so we can have them up in no time at all when there is a flood risk.”

Chris Bowyer, of C S Bowyer funeral directors, at the Bull Pit said: "It will give reassurance and make people feel a bit more comfortable.

"The drying-out certificate has just been issued so we can carry on with the refurbishment work. We have coped before and we will cope again.”

James Sullivan-Tailyour, owner of the Swan Hotel, said: “I think that given what’s happened in the past, I am very excited that things are moving ahead.

"I am very happy to see that some efforts are being made in the short term.

"Having said that, it could provide a long term solution, perhaps this is the way forward if it works.

"It’s a step in the right direction but there is still a lot more to do.

"Of course it is going to come up through the drains so that’s an issue that needs to be addressed. I would like to reassure people we are open for business from 7.30am until late.”

Jacqui Mehrez, of Neston Flowers in Church Street, said: "I think it’s come at the right time.

"John Potter and the town council have done something and it’s fantastic.

"I am very thankful because when it floods it is so disruptive.

"Since the Christmas flooding it’s very edgy around the town but we have all helped each other and we want people to come into Bradford on Avon and see that it is open.”

Malcolm Hewson, former Wiltshire councillor, said: "I have nicknamed it Canute because I am not sure it will work.

"There are so many routes by which water can reach the flood risk areas that one barrier along this particular stretch of bank is like a finger in a dyke that has many holes.

"I am pleased that the mayor has pulled together a meeting with the town council, Wiltshire Council, the Environment agency and others to try and find a long-term solution.”

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