Village flood funding plans spark outrage

Photo Ian Robinson'Flooding in Croston'Station Road
Photo Ian Robinson'Flooding in Croston'Station Road

Villagers are furious over plans to charge them for a £6m flood scheme to plug a funding gap.

Each household in Croston could be asked to fork out £900 if the proposals are passed, it has been claimed, and councillor Alan Whittaker has slammed it as “an absolute disgrace”.

He said: “They are proposing to charge each of the 900 residents in Croston a total of £900 per household to contribute to a flood barrier to prevent flooding which is none of their doing.

“I’ve never heard anything like it in my life.

“Will they be charging all the residents on the Somerset Levels or the Thames Valley where the Prime Minister Mr Cameron says we are going to sort this out? Of course they won’t.

“If the Leeds and Liverpool Canal burst its banks and flooded and the waterways couldn’t afford it, would they charge everyone in Chorley?

“It’s absolutely obscene.”

Croston Parish councillor Kath Almond, a member of the Croston Flood Management Group, said: “As a flood management group, we are definitely not happy, and we will fight it.

“The Government hasn’t done enough towards flooding.

“Why should we be penalised by all the build the council has (approved) upstream without the necessary flood alleviations?

“In the past, they haven’t asked developers to contribute towards a flood scheme.

“We said, if Chorley Town Hall burned down would they ask the whole of the borough to build it, or just Chorley.

“We are very angry.”

Chorley’s Council’s executive cabinet, which meets on Thursday, has been recommended to consult with Croston Parish Council and residents over the introduction of a “local levy” or equivalent recharge.

Contributions are also being sought from all partners, including the council.

Croston has a long history of flooding. The worst in recent history was on August 22, 1987, when more than 220 properties were affected.

On June 22, 2012, 30 homes and businesses flooded after torrential rain.

The Environment Agency, Chorley Council and other partners have been developing a flood risk management scheme.

A new £6m project for a flood storage area – a long embankment dam across the River Yarrow - has been proposed upstream of Eccleston Bridge.

The EA has secured £4m funding for the scheme which must start by March 2015. Lancashire County Council and United Utilities are also contributing. Now Chorley Council is seeking ways to provide £1.1m towards it.

Coun Peter Wilson, responsibile for resources at the council, said: “Given the shortfall and comments made by the Government concerning funding for flooding, we will be writing to the Government to ask them to bridge this gap so essential work can take place as soon as possible.

“If this fails we will have to consider other means of raising the £1.1m, one of which is to consider a local levy, which will be subject to local consultation before any action is taken.”