Underwater Hampshire village loses out on cash to defend against future flooding

PUMPING Hambledon has been ignored for flood grants, despite the fact water levels are unlikely to subside for a fortnight. Picture: Malcolm Wells (14276-7478)
PUMPING Hambledon has been ignored for flood grants, despite the fact water levels are unlikely to subside for a fortnight. Picture: Malcolm Wells (14276-7478)

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FLOOD-hit Hambledon being missed out of a £130m flood defence package from the government has caused anger.

Floods Minister Dan Rogerson announced 42 new flood schemes across the country to protect thousands of homes and businesses.

But Hambledon, which has been under a deluge of water for more than a fortnight, was not on the list.

It comes after villagers wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron last month, pleading for a new underground pipe to be built beneath the village’s main road to improve drainage.

The scheme, costing £3.5m, was not among last year’s approved schemes and has now missed out for a second year.

Tony Higham, chairman of Hambledon Flood Action Group, said: ‘It’s utterly and totally unacceptable.

‘We will be going straight back to the Prime Minister who asked us to write to him about three weeks ago. What I see is the mountain of support behind Hambledon from not only villagers but outsiders.

‘The repair cost for the road is going to be in the order of half to three quarters of a million pounds. To repair the roads and then dig them up a year later would be so utterly ludicrous.’

The news comes as the rain continues to pour and the water is not expected to go down for at least another fortnight.

Dr Ian Ruthven-Stuart and his wife Christina Ruthven-Stuart, who are both in their 80s, were furious. Half of their ground floor is flooded.

Dr Ruthven-Stuart said: ‘I am appalled. We are getting a very poor return for our taxes.’

But Sean Woodward, who heads environment at Hampshire County Council, said although it was disappointing news, there was still a real possibility the flood defence scheme could happen this year.

He said: ‘I was very disappointed that Hambledon was not in it. But give them the benefit of the doubt. Probably this announcement has been waiting to be made for quite some time. I imagine it’s been put together some time before any of the recent problems.’

Cllr Woodward said he was talking at a ‘high level’ with a view to getting the work done this year.

The match-funded scheme would involve half the cash from the Environment Agency and half from the local authorities – the county, Winchester City, and Hambledon Parish.

Cllr Woodward added: ‘There’s an awful lot of work to do yet, but we are talking to the right people at the right level in the Environment Agency to be able to achieve what we want to do.’

A statement from the Environment Agency said: ‘Hampshire County Council (HCC) has not been allocated any Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA) funding for works in Hambledon in the 2014/15 financial year. Although HCC was keen to submit a bid in 14/15, all flood defence schemes have to compete for Defra funding using a set scoring system.

‘Based on Defra’s cost benefit criteria and national priorities we advised them that the project would be unlikely to get FDGiA funding for several years unless additional contributions could be found. We continue to work closely with HCC as it develops its proposals for Hambledon.’