‘Roads need to be managed if the Hambledon flooding returns’

Flooding in Hambledon earlier this year
Flooding in Hambledon earlier this year
Police car. Pitcure: Jon Rigby

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TRAFFIC mayhem and major damage to property is on the cards unless roads can be properly managed during the flood season, it was warned at a meeting.

Villagers from Hambledon met civic, police and utility leaders yesterday to thrash out a plan on how the area will be supported should the floodwaters return.

Early predictions are that the rising groundwater could burst through manholes as early as December 9.

Most of residents’ demands – such as a huge stockpile of sandbags and emergency electricity generators at the ready – were answered at the emergency planning meeting in Winchester.

But the glaring question is who will manage the roads, which turn into fast-flowing rivers during the floods.

If the road remains open, it could mean lorries driving through the water and causing bow waves and sewage to flood people’s homes.

By closing it completely, many villagers and priority vehicles would not be able to get in.

Earlier this year Accredited Community Safety Officers, employed by Hampshire County Council, marshalled the traffic.

But all officers will be leaving their jobs from December 19 following a cost-cutting cull.

Tony Higham, chairman of Hambledon Flood Action Group, said: ‘Encouraging noises were made.

‘But what was not encouraging is how to control the traffic. The B2150 is a busy road. With nobody controlling the traffic, it could be complete carnage.’

Mr Higham said: ‘You can’t barricade us in because we have carers and doctors coming into the village and tankers that might need to empty their load.’

One possibility is that police control the traffic or the military.

But armed forces are only normally called upon if there is major flooding across the whole region.

The authorities have until December 19 – when the last ACSOs leave – to come up with a solution.

Mr Higham added: ‘It needs to be sorted out and there’s precious little time left to do it.’

Residents were assured there would be volunteers on duty to come and help them over the Christmas period. Officials at Hampshire County Council confirmed there was a ‘multi-agency response plan’ in place.