Tag Archives: funding

Canvey Island Residents left Bamboozled by Flood Protection Funding Maze!

The flooding of Canvey Island during the summers of 2013 and 2014 and the ongoing concerns of a repeat event have been the subject of recent local news reports and social media posts.

A recent visit was carried out by the Government under Secretary of State for the Environment, Thérèse Coffey MP to meet a delegation of CPBC councillors and officers and representatives of the multi agency partnership to view the work carried out so far in response to the 2014 flooding.

Press reports suggested that time was spent observing the achievements rather than viewing areas of the Island’s drainage scheme that remained to be upgraded.

For instance, Essex Highways have accounted for a promised routine improvement of Canvey’s road gully maintenance, whereas in fact certain roads gullies on the Island have not received any cleansing for a number of years! And yet apparently huge sums of central funding has been claimed by ECC, whilst routine work is neglected.

Essex Highways claim, “that (they) have shown its commitment by investing more than £1 million of additional funding to help tackle localised problems such as blocked gullies”, appears to have gone unchallenged by cpbc representatives, whilst they should be fully aware that regular routine maintenance is not carried out, except perhaps in those areas that were previously reported flooded.

The implication in this case being, prevention is not better than cure!

It cannot be denied that keeping the profile high on the amount of work needed to upgrade Canvey’s drainage system is a very good thing, but the release of central funding must be used on tangible works.

Canvey residents, whose properties suffered from the flooding during 2014 have been urged to make a claim for a grant towards installing Flood Prevention measures.

This encouragement to claim by council officials, appears to indicate a concession that future flood events may well occur, despite the work carried out so far, or that the maintenance programme and upgrading of the drainage system, reliant on the £24,000,000 grant from Government, may well not be forthcoming.

However, the ease of residents seeking access to funding for the installation of flood prevention measures appears not so easy to locate, despite the encouragement from local representatives.

A visit to our local authority’s website seeking residents funding reveals only;

Castle Point Council

“Council Tax Discount for properties affected by flooding on 20th July 2014. Deadline Extended to 30.11.2014”

Using a little initiative a search for and read of the famous 6 Point Plan reveals a lead;

“Following detailed investigations, the group envisages this scheme benefiting around 15,000 high risk properties – or around 40,000 residents – on the Island. It is estimated that these measures will require an additional £500,000 of allocated funding to support the PLP package, which was introduced in September of this year. This scheme will continue to be run and managed by Essex County Council in their role as Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA).”

The impliction being all properties on Canvey are subject to some level of surface water flood risk.

This led us to then log onto the ECC website where upon, using a couple of search words the following was discovered, an application area for qualifying residents of the whole  of Essex, not just Canvey Island, to claim for flood prevention measures. Disappointingly the situation is not as rosy as some, having suffered flooding, may have wished;

Essex County Council

“Please note: Due to the high number of applications, we’re currently unable to confirm if your application will be successful.

We will notify you as soon as the status of your application changes.”

It is a concern that an element of transparency regarding whether some of this may be old or new money being granted and whether grants are being used in central budgets, as we know of the multi agency partnership Essex Highways for one, are over stating their commitment!

The Castle Point Conservatives post on social media from the MPs and delegates meeting reads;

Thérèse Coffey MP, the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for the Environment, visited Castle Point at the request of local MP Rebecca Harris. The Minister was invited to see the joint work that Essex County Council, Anglian Water, the Environment Agency and Castle Point Borough Council have undertaken to reduce the risk of future flooding and hear what progress has been made on the Six Point Plan Proposal.

Canvey Island was especially badly flooded in the summers of 2013 and 2014 and in the aftermath of the flooding a Multi-Agency Partnership (MAP) was formed between Essex County Council, Anglian Water, The Environment Agency and Castle Point Borough Council to prevent future flooding. The MAP created a 6 Point Plan setting out actions that the agencies could undertake to increase resilience to surface water flooding. The Plan includes: property level flood protection; dredging Canvey Lake; Increasing capacity of the drainage infrastructure by building an Integrated Urban Drainage Model for Canvey; create the Canvey Resilient Communities Programme; development of innovative flood management technologies and investment in green surface water storage.

During the visit the Environment Agency’s Eastern Region Deputy Director, Charles Beardall, and Anglian Water’s Head of Flood Risk Management, Jonathan Glerum, explained to the Minister the work done so far on the Integrated Urban Drainage model and the significant investment made into the various pumping stations around the Island and on the Benfleet Creek Barrier.

The Minister also visited Canvey Lake where Castle Point Borough Council’s CEO, David Marchant, and Essex County Council’s Head of Environment and Flood Management, John Meehan, updated the Minister on the progress made on the 6 Point Plan to date. They also touched on future challenges facing the MAP.

Following the visit, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey MP said “Protecting people from flooding is an absolute priority, which is why we are spending more than £1 million to refurbish floodgates and on work investigating new local defences on Canvey Island.

“I was delighted to see first-hand what’s being done on the ground to better protect the community and will continue to follow the work with interest.”

Commenting, Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris said “I would like to thank the Minister for taking the time out of her busy schedule to visit Castle Point. We have made real progress to ensure that residents don’t suffer the terrible flooding of 2014 again and I am pleased that the Minister had the chance to see the progress first hand. There is still however more to do and I will be making sure that the County Council, Borough Council, Anglian Water and Environment Agency continue to work well together.

Cllr Ian Grundy, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, said “Essex County Council is proud to be part of the Multi-Agency Task Group which works to reduce the flood risk in Canvey. Friday’s visit from MP Thérèse Coffey offered a welcome opportunity to increase awareness of the key challenges we all face and how we are working collaboratively to find solutions.

“Since the task group was formed in 2014/15, Essex Highways has shown its commitment by investing more than £1 million of additional funding to help tackle localised problems such as blocked gullies and defective pipework in Canvey. We are also investing a further £500,000 over the next two years to address broader drainage issues. Our colleagues in Flood Management have invested £600,000 and will have protected 100 properties as part of their Property Protection scheme and have done numerous floods studies to target our future investments

“Essex Highways and the Flood Management team pride themselves on being innovative in their approach to deliver more, for less, for the taxpayer. We will continue to be a keen contributor to the work of the Multi-Agency Task Group, with a focus on delivering greener, more sustainable solutions to help solve these issues.” “

Jonathan Glerum, Anglian Water’s Head of Flood Risk Management, said “We were delighted to welcome the Minister to Canvey and show her the great partnership work that has been delivered. The approach to multi-agency working that has been developed on Canvey is a game changer and has delivered significant investment in flood mitigation on the island.”

“Anglian Water has invested over £2million on improvements to our drainage network on the Island and is committed to continued working with partners, and Government, as we look to develop and deliver innovation solutions to flood risk management for Canvey.”

Environment Agency’s Eastern Region Deputy Director, Charles Beardall, said “The day was a great opportunity to highlight the scale of the Environment Agency’s investment on Canvey, from our ongoing maintenance work to significant improvements to the protection of properties from main river flooding. It also gave us a chance to showcase our work with partner organisations as they look at future options to reduce surface water flood risk.”

Castle Point Borough CEO, David Marchant, said “All of the agencies involved were able to demonstrate to the Minister how much progress they have made since the disastrous flooding of 2013/14. Working together we have invested or plan to invest nearly £6m in accordance with the Six Point Plan to ensure the existing network operates as effectively as possible. However there is still more to do but the unique nature of the drainage system means that innovation in design is necessary particularly when the essential balance between the environment and critical drainage infrastructure on Canvey Lake has to be maintained.”

Canvey Councillor Ray Howard MBE, Castle Point Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Waste and Flooding, said ‘It was very encouraging to have a Minister of the Crown visit Canvey Island. The Minister showed a great interest in our previous flooding problems and assured us that her department would do all they could to assist in future flooding matters’.

One thing appears absolutely clear is that despite some claims to the contrary, the possibility of a repeat of the devastating events is now accepted by many agency representatives!

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Castle Point’s choice – Develop Green Belt or Funding for “Vital Services” will be Cut!

We were recently reminded by a senior cabinet member how important the funding revenue received from house building was to Castle Point Council.

He clarified how the scaling down of direct Government funding to local authorities made the necessity of New Homes Bonus payments a vital source of income.

Housing

We heard the CPBC Cabinet member responsible for finances state that;

Currently local authorities receive the New Homes bonus on every new dwelling developed.

The Government will expect a Base Level of Housing Growth.

In Castle Point this Base Level of Housing Growth equates to NOT receiving any New Homes Bonus funding until 120 new dwellings are Developed in the Borough!

The Castle Point  Local Plan2016 seeks to supply 100 new dwellings per annum, some way short of the Base Level of Growth sought by Government.

Previously local authorities received monies against every new dwelling developed!

The New Homes Bonus (‘the Bonus’) was introduced in 2011 to provide a clear incentive for local authorities to encourage housing growth in their areas. It rewards local councils for each additional home added to the council tax base, including newly built properties and conversions as well as long term empty properties brought back into use, after deducting demolitions. 

 The Bonus is an unring-fenced grant paid by central government,  which allows local authorities to decide how to spend it, for example on frontline services or keeping council tax down, as we recognise that local authorities are in the best position to make decisions about local priorities.

Local authorities are expected to engage with their local community to decide how the money is spent, so residents feel the direct benefits of growth.

Starved of Central Government Funding, the council are between a rock and a hard place with the government very cleverly requiring councils to hold a referendum as to whether it would be acceptable to increase council tax in order to maintain societies fundamental requirements.

This equates to an inevitable increase in council tax, or more development, or less “vital services”!

Your choice !

It may also imply that unless the said cpbc cabinet member for finances can balance his budget, in light of the reducing funding streams, the Local Plan2016 Examining Inspector may also be required to include the council’s budget, against the projected Housing Supply of 100  new dwellings per annum contained in the Plan, within his Test of Soundness!

Blinking “Ell, Green Belt to suffer? Castle Point Council miss out Again on Government Hand Out!

DCLG have announced a short list of areas in which support is to be given to develop Garden Villages.

The first ever garden villages, which have the potential to deliver more than 48,000 homes across England, have been given government backing.”

This a contentious issue in Castle Point as it was expected that the possibility of the area commonly known as the “Blinking Owl” site could be developed.

The area is Green Belt, although not “virgin” Green Belt, and was muted as an opportunity to both protect the more favoured parts of Castle Point’s Green Belt whilst also going someway to meet the Housing needs (OAHN) of the Borough. This potential project is “opposed” by Essex County Council and may require further consultation of the Local Plan if it were to be followed up with.

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It is interesting to note that in neighbouring Basildon, the Dunton Village has received Government backing despite strong opposition from local residents, over 1,600 have registered with the Facebook campaign group.

In contrast, Brentwood MP Eric Pickles welcomes new “garden village” for Dunton Hills, saying it will “meet the needs of the local population”.

The possibility of whether Castle Point Council had made enquiries into the qualification for funding for a garden village was commented upon on social media ( a risky business locally) by two cpbc councillors;

Cllr Sharp questioned “did castle Point put a bid in ….?????”

 Cllr Dick responded “I do not think do (sic) but they had the same opportunity as Dunton.

Cllr Sharp then stated “frustrating we had the ideal site as you know”

Dependent on the further progress of the Castle Point Local Plan2016 there appears a further opportunity to prompt cpbc to seek funding;

The government may run a further call for expressions of interest in 2017 for other places with proposals for new garden villages.”

The problem may be the failure of Castle Point Council in including the “Blinking Owl site within the 20 year Housing Supply within the Local Plan.

The full Government announcement reads;

The first ever garden villages, which have the potential to deliver more than 48,000 homes across England, have been given government backing.

In an expansion of the existing garden towns programme, these smaller projects of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes continue the government’s commitment to support locally-led development and make sure this is a country that works for everyone.

The 14 new garden villages – from Devon to Derbyshire, Cornwall to Cumbria – will have access to a £6 million fund over the next 2 financial years to support the delivery of these new projects.

This money will be used to unlock the full capacity of sites, providing funding for additional resources and expertise to accelerate development and avoid delays.

The government also announced today (2 January 2017) its support for 3 new garden towns in Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow & Gilston – and a further £1.4 million of funding to support their delivery.

Together with the 7 garden towns already announced, these 17 new garden settlements have the combined potential to provide almost 200,000 new homes across the country.

Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said:

Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need.

New communities not only deliver homes, they also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies. These places combined could provide almost 200,000 homes.

New garden villages and towns

These developments will be distinct new places with their own community facilities, rather than extensions to existing urban areas. The 14 new garden villages are:

  • Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon
  • Oxfordshire Cotswold in West Oxfordshire
  • Deenethorpe in East Northants
  • Culm in Mid Devon
  • Welborne near Fareham in Hampshire
  • West Carclaze in Cornwall
  • Dunton Hills near Brentwood, Essex
  • Spitalgate Heath in South Kesteven, Lincolnshire
  • Halsnead in Knowsley, Merseyside
  • Longcross in Runnymede and Surrey Heath
  • Bailrigg in Lancaster
  • Infinity Garden Village in South Derbyshire and Derby City area
  • St Cuthberts near Carlisle City, Cumbria
  • North Cheshire in Cheshire East

In addition to funding, the government will provide support in terms of expertise, brokerage and offer of new planning freedoms.

Due to the high level of expressions of interest submitted in July 2016, the government has made an additional £1 million available this year for further development of other garden village proposals.

The government may run a further call for expressions of interest in 2017 for other places with proposals for new garden villages.

A garden town is a development of more than 10,000 homes. Garden villages are smaller settlements of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes.

By 2020, more than 25,000 housing starts are expected in garden villages, towns and cities supported by the government. Homes are already being built in several locations, including Bicester, Basingstoke, Didcot, Ebbsfleet, Aylesbury, Taunton and North Northants.

The new garden projects will also have access to infrastructure funding programmes across government, such as the new £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund announced at this year’s Autumn Statement.

Flood protection Funding available, but is it appropriate for Canvey Island properties?

Some overdue funding is being made available, from the Government via Essex County Council, to homeowners who have had flood water incursion into their property’s.

From contact with the Environment Agency there is a possibility that some methods of property flood resistance may not be wholly appropriate for Canvey Island.

Canvey has a residual risk of flooding from the Estuary, in the unlikely event that this may happen, by not allowing flood water to enter properties the outer pressure, built up by the water level, may exceed the resistance strength of the structure, leading to collapse.

Let us hope that expert advice is on hand to accompany the sale of these surface water protection devices.

Hopefully, at least since the events of 2014, the Castle Point planning department and committee have been insuring that appropriate devices have been fitted during construction of new builds by developers, as otherwise it would appear a misuse of central funds.

Echo Newspaper article reads;

GRANTS to help protect homes from flooding are now available from Essex County Council.

Applications for Property Level Protection grants, of up to £5,000, can be made by homeowners on Essex County Council’s website.
People whose homes have been flooded internally in the past three years, from ordinary watercourse, groundwater and surface water flooding, and who can provide demonstrable evidence of the impact of the flooding, will be eligible.
Roger Hirst, Essex councillor responsible for environment, said: “The purpose of the grant is to provide assistance to residents who have suffered from flooding in Essex, by helping them become more resilient and resistant to future flooding.

“By providing residents with grants, we intend for them to choose the most suitable installed Property Level Protection equipment to help them to help themselves against further threat of flooding.”

Flood resistant doors, airbricks, pumps and flood safety doors can be installed with the grant money.