To discuss flooding which took place in Witney over the Christmas period. Although the Town Council has no responsibilities for flooding in respect of the Civil Contingencies Act, discussion on working with other authorities and formulating a Town Council strategy on this matter in the future should be given consideration.
The committee received a verbal update from the Chair who advised that the flooding which occurred in the town over the Christmas period had shown shortcomings in the response for those affected. The worst hit areas were Central, North and East Witney but surface water from other wards feed directly into the river catchment area, so it was an issue for the whole town.
There was discussion on what had caused the floods, with many facts unknown but climate change and development in the catchment areas had not helped. Members were also concerned that lessons had not been learned following the floods in 2007 and there needed to be a comprehensive report or public enquiry to establish the facts. If this was not forthcoming, the committee agreed that it should be requested by the Town Council.
Once a report was published the Town Council would be in a better position to see if there was anything else it could do or suggest in gaps, engineering or in lobbying the District Council and other authorities on measures and planning policy changes.
As a Town Council, without remit for flooding or water courses and as a consultee on planning applications only, it was difficult to envisage what else could practically be done to help alleviate flood risks other than by scrutinising applications, such as the Witney North development and others. There was agreement that future application observations, particularly in the affected areas should ask for mitigation from the loss of drainage land. The Committee also agreed that it should note strategic features that helped during the flooding and ensure thought is given to emergency vehicle access in the future.
Members also noted that an emergency planning response had been debated by the Stronger Communities Committee and this would help signpost residents in the future.
1. That Witney Town Council waits for the West Oxfordshire District Council report into flooding in Witney on 24th and 25th December 2020 before deciding on a practical strategy in relation to flooding; and in the meantime,
2. That Witney Town Council notes the loss of permeable drainage ground in future consultee planning application responses where it considers the need for surface water flooding mitigation is required; and,
3. That the Town Council considers practical local knowledge in relation to future planning applications, such as access for emergency services in the event of flooding; and,
4. That Witney Town Council recognises and notes the key features such as walls in flooded areas which may have helped alleviate its seriousness, and which should be protected from future development.