HAMPSHIRE’S environment leader has written a strongly-worded letter to the government to demand it acts now to stop flooding misery for residents.
Sean Woodward, who heads environment at Hampshire County Council, wrote to Owen Paterson, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, following a week of flooding woes in Hambledon.
The village north of Waterlooville is ranked by the authority as being the most vulnerable to groundwater flooding across the entire county.
But last year Hambledon still did not qualify for £3.5m of funding for a flood alleviation scheme.
The county council was turned down after making an application to the Environment Agency for Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA).
The scheme would involve improvements to drainage channels.
Today East Street, West Street, Green Lane and the B2150 were closed due to the flooding.
Cllr Woodward said feedback indicated that funding was unlikely for the 2015/2016 round of grants.
He said: ‘Flooding affects some 124 properties and businesses on an approximately seven-year cycle.
‘The flow of groundwater can last for many weeks causing major distress and disruption to residents and business as well as causing disturbance to road users.’
The county council plans to spend £150,000 this winter on improving the water course downstream of the village. But this will not solve the problem.
Cllr Woodward added: ‘I fully appreciate the pressures on the flood defence budget.
‘However, it is frustrating and perplexing for my authority that its number one priority site identified through its Local Flood Risk Management Strategy has apparently little prospect of receiving FDGiA funding.’
A spokeswoman said the Environment Agency’s board meeting will decide next month which schemes may qualify for grants.
Dr Ian Ruthven-Stuart and his wife Christina Ruthven-Stuart, who are both in their 80s, echoed Cllr Woodward’s call for action.
A river is currently running at the front and back of the house and half of their ground floor is submerged under three inches of water.
Dr Ruthven-Stuart said: ‘It’s very frustrating because we don’t know from one year to the next whether we are going to be flooded.
‘We have five pumps going at the moment and have saved half the house by doing that. The more pressure the better.’
THE most recent flood warning for the area was issued for the River Meon – between Wickham and Titchfield – at 4am on Wednesday.
But fortunately Titchfield faired much better than Hambledon in the recent downpours.
The River Meon was heavily swollen but residents managed to contain it to Bridge Street and East Street.
Councillor Geoff Hockley, who represents Titchfield on Hampshire County Council, said: ‘We were very prepared and we had sandbags.
‘It was controlled because the water largely went over the road and back into the river again. The problems of Hambledon are 50 times greater.’