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Category Archives: flood
The following is a letter from Ben Byrom to traders about the postponement of the phase 1 Caen Street drainage works.
Just to let you all Know the detail of this letter I have received this morning from Devon County Council Engineering department.
I have not left the letter author’s name on the letter as he asked me not to publish it. You are no doubt as disappointed as I am that this project has been postponed but I trust that when the scheme happens it WILL BE the right one for Braunton. We do have a good relationship with the DCC team and am in regular contact with our MP who is fighting our cause in many corners and is working at getting the area director of the EA up to see us here in Braunton.
Following your previous communication with my client John, I am writing to inform you of the latest developments regarding the proposed phase 1 drainage works at Caen Street, Braunton. As you may be aware, it was intended to undertake improvements to Caen Street’s drainage in two separate phases, with the phase 1 scheme comprising works within the highway and the phase 2 scheme a complementary pumping station.
Unfortunately, due to difficulties in modelling an effective phase 2 solution in the tight timeframe available, it has not been possible to develop the phase 1 scheme such that it would be sufficiently adaptable to suit the eventual phase 2 installation. We are mindful of the potential disruption that would result from the temporary closure of Caen Street and have therefore decided to postpone the phase 1 works until the full scheme proposals are more fully developed, thereby avoiding the risk of needing a second road closure during the phase 2 scheme.
As a result of the above, please be advised that the planned road closure (reference TTRO1613764) will be cancelled.
Devon County Council and our consultants will continue to investigate and develop proposals for Caen Street as a priority. We are still aiming to proceed with investigation works such as trial pits and boreholes to inform the eventual scheme. These will either be minor works on the highway in Caen Street (not requiring a closure) or will be located off of the highway in verges.
If you have any questions or concerns please get in touch.
Do you know that …….
- some businesses in Braunton are being refused ANY flood insurance, or have a policy excess as high as £10,000, in contravention of a Government agreement with the insurance industry?
- the Government’s new Flood Re insurance scheme – to be introduced shortly – will again EXCLUDE small businesses and will also EXCLUDE some domestic dwellings because they are part of a commercial building eg a flat above a shop?
- you CAN do something to help – even if you are not personally affected there are others in Braunton who are and they need your support!!
How can you help?
By copying the template letter attached into an email and sending it to email@example.com this week. The legislation is due for discussion in Parliament shortly and your MP – with an election next year – will want to show that he has acted on your behalf.
PLEASE do it now – Braunton needs all the help it can get!
TEMPLATE LETTER TO SIR NICK HARVEY
Dear Sir Nick,
Do you know that:
Some businesses in Braunton are being refused ANY flood insurance, or have a policy excess as high as £10,000, in contravention of a Government agreement with the insurance industry?
The Government’s new Flood Re insurance scheme – to be introduced shortly – will again EXCLUDE small businesses and will also EXCLUDE some domestic dwellings because they are part of a commercial building eg a flat above a shop?
The Water Bill, which is the enabling legislation for Flood Re, will be discussed in Parliament shortly.
Will you raise your constituent’s concerns about Flood Re and ask the Government when they will introduce a Flood Re for business and end the discrimination under the current scheme against domestic dwellings which are part of a commercial building?
The Government has put out a consultation paper on the Flood Reinsurance (Flood Re) scheme and is asking for feedback. It would be very helpful if as many people, and particularly leaseholders, business operators and the Parish, in Braunton would take the few minutes to respond to this consultation. The Consultation can be found here. Not that the deadline for responses is 16 September. Whilst it is important that each person answers independently and does it themselves, they might find it of assistance to know that one person who has already filled it out said that the important bits are questions 13 and 16. Furthermore, his response to those questions was:
Box 1 remove the word ‘abnormal’ as a parameter for defining flooding as, in places like Braunton, flooding is so frequent as to be normal
Box 2 there is clear discrimination against leaseholders, many of whom will have lease agreements that put the onus on the freeholder to provide buildings insurance, which then precludes leaseholders from cover under the Flood Re scheme
Box 3 the definition of ‘dwelling’ discriminates against leaseholders
Cover should be extended to include small businesses, in other words owner operated businesses.
There is a time limit for responses to this consultation, so the sooner the better! How do you think we can best achieve this?
Learn how to protect your property properly. There is a correct way to sandbag! Come along to the Caen Street overflow car park this Friday Evening 11th April 6.30 to 8.00pm.
The Environment Agency will be there along with the Fire Service to show how easy it is to do it properly and to show you how to be prepared for flooding.
“I thought it was easy until I attended one of these training events at Barnstaple Fire Station”
On 22nd December 2012, just 6 months after the Environment Agency had completed a £1.2m flood defence scheme in Braunton, the River Caen overtopped its banks, causing as much damage as the previous such event in 2004.
The rain fall in 2012 was more than the scheme was designed to manage and together with 2 small trees washed down and obstructing one bridge, the effect was flooding for over 60 properties with the worst of those in Caen Street – flooded to a depth of 4 feet. This resulted in 5 properties in the commercial heart of the village remaining closed for months.
After the initial shock, a small group of traders decided that action must be taken to find a long term solution to the cycle of flooding as Braunton has been flooded 21 times in the last 118 years – a staggering statistic.
The Parish Council were approached by the traders group to bring together all agencies that could possibly be involved and get them around the table together. From this we now have good relationships with them all.
2013 has seen some progress.
- The Environment Agency has further upgraded the defence scheme and more vegetation clearing on the riverbank has been undertaken
- Highways have looked into moving the Caen street drainage system outlet further downstream, but this is not viable as there is little fall
- Braunton Parish Council has appointed Ben Byrom as River Warden and Ben has been involved with all of the agencies from the day of the flooding
- Devon County Council, as Lead Flood Authority, has initiated a study of the whole Braunton water catchment area by Jacobs Engineering to better understand the flood risk and what action can be taken to mitigate it. This study involves all agencies and includes the traders group as contributors
- Several property owners have written to the Environment Agency, Devon County Council and our MP expressing their concerns about flooding. We know that Punch Taverns, Enterprise Inns, Lloyds Pharmacy, Tiki International and Webbers have done so, and we think that Lloyds Bank and Warrens have as well.
- Emergency phone numbers have been widely disseminated. These are for river obstructions, highways and drainage.
- The local Emergency Plan is being updated and is just about to be launched
- We are now able to watch the river gauges ourselves on line, so if you want to see the water level at Butts Bridge (by the Memorial Gardens) see this web page: www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/riverlevels/120725.aspx?stationId=3346
What will 2014 bring?
- Hopefully the Jacobs’ study will point the way to a long term solution to the flooding problem, but the BIG message is that self help / civic resilience – call it what you like – will be key to defending the village against future flooding. Several properties on Caen Street now have flood barriers, the river is regularly inspected for potential problems and everyone is encouraged to be aware of blocked drains or other such hazards and report them immediately
- Braunton has secured funding to place four ¾ tonne bunkers that will contain loose sand and bags for use in a flood situation. The placing of these will be announced shortly
- Early in 2014 we are going to organise with the Parish Council, Caen Rotary Club and the Environment Agency a sandbagging evening – see just how effective a properly constructed sandbag wall can be!
- There will be the launch of the Braunton Emergency plan when we will be asking skilled people in the community to register and anyone who would like to volunteer to help in any kind of village emergency.
- We still need to work hard for 2 areas of the village that were badly affected with flooding both through poor surface water drainage and from river water. These areas are Deans Bridge by St Brannocks Church and South Street. We are talking to different agencies to try and get to the bottom of the these problem areas
- During 2013 we must have put in 100’s of hours with letters, emails, phone calls, press coverage, trader updates and meetings and we will continue until we can see a drier future for Braunton!
More information from.
Ben Byrom – 01271 812295
Simon Tattersall – 01271 830810
TRADER UPDATE – October 2013
It is some time now since the last Trader update but up till now we have had little to report, although there have been very few days since last years flood that there has not been a conversation or email about Flooding in Braunton, We have been on the case!
FLOODING – PROGRESS!
1st The Parish Council set up a River sub group, consisting of the Council Clerk Tracey, myself and Simon Tattersall. We have been able to talk directly with the agencies involved.
2nd The Environment Agency has been carrying out additional work, the main purpose of which is to further reduce the risk of the river overtopping its banks by the Memorial Gardens – from where it flows down Chaloners Road and into Caen Street. These gardens have now been built up to the height of the sandbags that stopped the 2nd night of flooding. There have been other small additions and improvements along the banks.
3 rd As we all read in the Journal, Braunton has been allocated £50k. This is to carry out a complete flood risk assessment of the whole Braunton valley. The Flood Risk Manager at Devon County Council (which is the ‘lead flood authority’ for Devon) has contracted an external firm of water management experts to carry out a far reaching study to identify critical flood risk areas in and around Braunton and to recommend ways of mitigating / eliminating flood risk in the future. This work has already started but the final report is not expected before April 2014. We are told we will be part of this process for the local knowledge. Watch this space.
4th Highways have been exploring different ways of moving the water out of Caen Street in the event of flooding and have put forward suggestions that have not addressed the problem. Hopefully the above survey will offer answers.
FLOODING – PROTECTION
Braunton is a high priority so if you should notice ANY blocked drains or gulleys or areas of surface water please immediately phone NDDC 24 help line number 388240 – you WILL get a response.
If you notice that there are major obstructions or other problems in the river, please immediately phone the EA Hot line 0800 807060 to report it.
If you would like a telephone call from the Floodline of the Environment Agency warning of an impending flood for YOUR property, please phone 0845 988 1188. You can register up to FIVE telephone numbers.
Many Traders have commented on the fact they have seen an increase in trade this season and put it down to the fact that many more vehicles can use the car park to visit the village now the barrier is down. The Parish will have seen this in the additional revenue at the ticket machines. Please email Tracey.Weaver@northdevon.gov.uk to thank the Parish Council
If you need sandbags, please contact Ben on (w) 812295, (h) 816611, (mob) 07778 149 457.
We will keep you posted on progress.
This article was written by Simon Tattersall who owns property on Caen Street
The 13th – if you are superstitious – may not be a good day and so it could have been in Caen Street on 13th June this year. After a relatively light fall of rain there was water half way across Caen Street because – yet again – the drains were not doing what they are supposed to do and flooding beckoned.
I say ‘yet again’ because Braunton has an astonishing flood record. In the last 118 years there have been 21 recorded floods – 12 of which have occurred in the last 50 years. It would be easy to assume that the river Caen overtopping its banks is the major cause – and certainly the worst property damage has been caused this way – but in fact the Environment Agency reckon that of the 21 events, only 5 have been as a direct result of the river overtopping. What is going on?
As all Brauntonians know, the Environment Agency’s flood relief scheme – aimed at substantially reducing the risk of flooding from the river – was completed in 2012. Just 6 months later, on December 22nd, a further damaging flood occurred when the river burst its banks at the Memorial Gardens, sending water along the A361 where it turned into Caen Street and entered 25 commercial properties. This flood was arguably worse than the one in 2004 – the river again – because the drainage system did not take the water away and it had to be removed by pump.
The following months saw a visit from Royalty, meetings with the various responsible agencies and most recently a presentation to the Parish Council by the Environment Agency of their proposal to carry out further work this autumn to improve the river defences.
What of the drainage system? The County Council – following legislation passed in 2009 and 2010 – is now the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) and is tasked with working with other organisations to manage the flood risk. The Environment Agency has told the LLFA that the flooding on Caen Street is ‘a real and separate problem’ and the LLFA has now provided funds to the Highways section of Devon County Council to assess the current situation. Unbelievably Devon County Council has no records, plans or drawings of the drainage system!
Looking at the placing of the outflow into the river (practically at river bed level just by the road bridge) it is manifestly clear even to the layman that the fall from road gulley to river is far too shallow to work properly even if the drains are kept clear, and that any material rise in river levels will effectively shut the outlet off. Result? Another flood in Caen Street!
The LLFA has indicated that realistically the only solution may be a pumping station. Of course this will be expensive, but what is the cost of not doing it? By March this year 5 of the 25 commercial properties on Caen Street were still shut and the eventual cost to insurers, owners and tenants of repairing damage, replacing stock, paying insurance excesses and other unrecoverable costs is likely to exceed £500,000!
We need to ensure that the commercial heart of Braunton is not flooded out again! To help with this may I suggest that you consider emailing the local County Councillor for Braunton who is Caroline Chugg. Her contact details are on her blog which is here.
For more information about the developments since the flooding see the other articles on this site.
It seems like an age ago that I last wrote reporting on what was happening with the river post flooding.
Since then the sun has been shining and Prince Charles has been to boost morale but you the Trader have not been forgotten. There has been a relentless exchange of emails with the agencies involved on your behalf mainly from Simon Tattersall, Charles Tippet’s landlord.
Last week the EA sent me the official 40 page + annexes report on last December’s flooding. If you would like to see it I can forward a copy to you.
In a nutshell “last December had the largest flood flow since at least 1894 and has been assessed as having a 1 in 250 chance of occurring in any one year”. There are however areas of uncertainty in the report as to the flows of water and even after talking to the EA last week there was uncertainty in some of the Hydraulic models used to design the new defence programme as there are so many variables. That’s nature for you.
So just to be on the safe side and “to give greater confidence that the scheme is providing the 1 in 100 standard of protection it was designed for” the EA are proposing to raise a number of banks that topped (overflowed) at the last flood. This work is at present being priced by contractors but is estimated to cost approx £70K with the work behind Caen School planned to be carried out in the summer holidays.
I am pleased we have got some positive action from the EA. I am not convinced it is the complete answer for the river but then I am not the expert and there is no money for any other scheme.
Going back to the multiagency meetings I asked the Parish to call back in January, there has been progress on the Caen Street drainage.
Everybody now knows it was not blocked drains in Caen Street but was the under-capacity and inadequacy of the drainage system that is the problem. This was due to the fact that possibly 200 years ago the river ran through Caen School and across Caen Street and on through the car park hence this is why the level is so low in Caen Street. Drains were last upgraded in approx 1964. At that time with the railway line and station in the way there was nowhere else to put the drain outlet other than almost up hill to the river. There is now great scope to run a drain under the car park and into the river lower down that will give both better storage and good run off.
Devon County Highways are working with the EA to find a suitable outlet into the river as well as doing a lot of survey work themselves to draw up a plan to price a new system.
Of the 21 floods over the last 110 years the EA tell us that only 5 are due to the river flooding over and all the rest are due to surface water problems, for example flash rain storms.
So with this information we will be seeing what Highways do about this problem as the EA have discussed it with them.
I hope that you have all benefited from extra trade with the car park barrier height restrictions down. If you have can you please justify it by telling Braunton Parish Council in a letter or email as they are only down for a trial period until October 2013. You will soon be shouting if they go back up overnight.
Also, car park permits are coming up for review any time now. As there were only 7 sold last year it cost more to administer than it did in revenue so the Parish have a number of options. So whilst we were opposed to them if you can’t beat them join them I say and one of the options could be to sell them to village traders. It would be much easier for you to have one payment a year in your accounts rather than lots of tickets and having to find change every day. It would mean you parking in the overflow but that would free up spaces for your customers to park closer to your shops.
Again if you want it or think it’s a good idea then tell the Parish or tell me but I must have some justification to lobby councillors.
To clear up.
The Parish Emergency plan is taking shape so it is really important to keep your details up-to-date (with me for the moment).
If any of you have up-to-date figures on your insurance claims etc etc please let me know as we are still looking for a total claim.
Whilst I have got the title of River Warden I cannot comment or remark on behalf of the Parish Council. Anything I write in a Trader update is as Trader Concerns Coordinator.
If you have anything to raise PLEASE let me know and I will help with it where possible as well as keeping you in touch with the river and drainage developments.
Have a good trading season.
Ben Byrom. firstname.lastname@example.org
The following is a letter to local traders from Ben Byrom of West Cross Garage dated 16 February 2013 providing an update on the flooding situation.
Since my last note to you I have given my What happened? Why it happened? And What are we doing about it power point to both a Rotary club lunch and was invited to show it to the whole Parish Council. As there has been a number of requests from the public to see it the Council have given me the use of the Parish hall on the 2nd of march (a Saturday) to start at 6pm with a 2nd show at about 8pm if the demand is too great for the first one as we can only seat about 100. I have asked the Rotary club to man the doors for me. IT IS FREE OF CHARGE.
The show will consist of a talk through of what happened on the day, and were it happened with my WWW power point of pictures and then after a film show of other pictures of the day. I have a large number of pictures from Pete Stapleton, Matt Fryer and Andrew Byrom.
We have had great support from Nick Harvey in our fight for some answers. Charles Tippet has had a conversation with the Environment minister Owen Patterson MP and explained that the money spent on Braunton would be wasted if further work was not carried out to Enhance the scheme. Richard Cresswell the EA’s regional Director has also been written to. Simon Tattersall who is Charles Tippets Landlord is putting pressure on all local departments asking for answers to questions under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Environment Agency are still working with their engineering department on drawing up some designs and pricing the suggestions they have at this time come up with. I am writing again to Jim Faux this week to chase up. The highways contact is on holiday so we have no update on any drain proposals for Caen Street or South Street.
Good to see Charles and Camilla are coming to see Braunton next week. This will help with the flood fight that we are having with the agencys I hope!.
The Great News is that the Car Park barriers are down at Caen Street end for an 8 month trial period. It was unanimously agreed by all those that attended the BPC meeting but I do know that some that were not there would have voted against this decision.
Please warn your customers that if they have a large vehicle it must be in a parking bay. If it overhangs another bay they WILL get a ticket as it is in the off street parking Bylaws. It would be really good if you could all E mail the Parish Council and thank them for this decision. At the end of the season it would be good to gather all of your feedback and take it back to BPC.
INSURANCE. I do need to know how much the flood has cost you.
Take into account the following:-
Lost trade as it would have been the busiest day of the year.
Clean-up cost how many hours did it take you, Put a cost to it.
Cost to the insurance company.
Uninsured cost’s ie phone calls travel etc
How much is your insurance premium going up by.
Has your property been devalued?
It all adds up and I really need a starting value before next week end. We can keep amending as your costs become accurate.
Do you know of a resident that has made a claim or lost work because of the Caen flooding? Let me know, Put them in touch.
I am asking for a price of Policing and fire service for the day as we need an honest and fairly accurate costing all together. The Environment Agency work the cost of flooding out with their computer.
Possibly the same one they designed a scheme to stop the 100 year flood on.
All costs given are confidential. I just need to work out a total price.
Please E mail anything you can to me.
Ben Byrom West Cross Garage
Sent: 07 February 2013 15:10
To: West Cross Garage
Subject: FW: Funding for any additional improvements at Braunton The Environment Agency has bid and been allocated £3.74M over the next 3 years for doing enhancement/large repair projects for the communities affected by the July, November and December 2012 floods in Devon and Cornwall. The process for accessing this money would be doing a cost benefit assessment ie calculating the cost of any improvements and comparing it to the flood damage avoided. This would then be compared with the other projects on the programme nationally to see if we are better spending the money in Braunton or elsewhere. For a small improvement of the order of 200-300mm where the sandbag defence were put in place then for the business case it may be reasonable to say that this was part of the existing scheme. I think this is reasonable for small improvements but we would have to do a separate business case for anything significantly larger. I hope this clarifies the funding a little Regards Jim Faux 01392 354134
As promised to those of you I have spoken to, I have an update of what has been going on post flooding. I was trying to E mail you all as it is quicker but my IT skills have failed today.
I will be giving my Presentation “What happen, Why, and What are we doing about it” to the full Parish Council on Monday evening at 6 pm. There is nothing secret about it as some have already suggested but there is very little room to have the whole village in to watch it. So I hope with full Council approval they will let me have the Parish hall one evening soon were I can give my WWW presentation, talk you through what is going on now and show a lot of photos of the flood day taken by local photographers.
What I do need from you all to justify a case to spend more money on enhancing the existing flood defence is:-
- The value of your insurance claim due to the flood.
- The value of any uninsured losses.
- Your contact details if I do not have them. E mail, Day phone no and out of hours no, Mobile.
- Details of any house holder that has lost out and made a claim, Please talk to your customers.
Any of the above details will be private we just need a total figure that we can evidence.
Any questions you have please E mail me.
Ben Byrom email@example.com 09/02/2013
I have been working on. What happened, Why and What is being done about it.
I was there from the start on the day of the flood so was pleased to be invited to talk and explain the problems with our MP the Environment Agency and Some Parish Councillor’s the day after the event whilst walking the river.
The river Topped out in the memorial Gardens the same as it did seven years ago. One tree was pulled out of the bank just below the bowling green bridge, This had fallen across the river causing a restriction backing up the water. A second tree came down the river complete with root ball and jammed under this bridge causing another partial restriction. Due to the flood defence work the memorial garden was able to hold a large capacity of water that held off the river bursting its bank (topping out) for a longer period of time.
It must be noted that when the river topped out Score bridge (lower down) was not at capacity and there was still room under the bridge arch. This shows that the defence work did work here as seven year ago the bridge was up to capacity very quickly raising the water level up to the memorial gardens before bursting its bank into Braunton.
The Environment agency disagree that the tree’s partially blocking the bridge were the cause of the river bursting its bank. I believe that they WERE the cause. An eye witness at the time of removing the lower tree was surprised at the sudden rush of water and drop in water level. I believe if the trees had not been there we would have possibly been flooded later in the day but would have had better warning to sand bag.
As a result of the River burst we know that it very quickly filled Caen Street to a depth greater than has been seen for many years. The natural over flow is straight into South Street.
Over the years traders have complained about the drains not being cleaned often enough so causing the flooding. The answer is really not this simple. A new drain was laid in Caen Street in about 1964. If you look at pictures of the street at this period in time you can see all the obstructions they had to contend with to get a drain to the river, as the railway line was there along with signal box etc so a straight line drain meant that there was very little option as to where to run it so giving it little if any fall on the pipe. This drain pipe comes into the river lower than the river bed so when we get a high river the drain runs backwards into Caen Street.
Highways said that any sort of mechanical one way valve here was out of the question as they required maintenance and could be unreliable.
Sadly this flood we saw a new flood problem in South Street. As well as the over flow of river water from Caen Street a drain cover blow its lid off adding flood water from other areas of the village to the street. The road drains were unable to cope with this much water and due to the construction of Tesco’s road a low bowl has been formed that has got little drainage, This needs addressing.
The Tarka trail for the first time was breached at the rear of South Street property’s. This flooding has been caused by the extra water now being taken through Hordons Bridge. The Environment Agency said that it was inevitable that work on one area of the river will have an effect on another.
After meeting with engineers from the Environment Agency Mr Jim Faux, Devon County Council Highways Mr Paul Stuart and Mr Matt Beddow from Devon County Council it has been agreed that a new drain from Caen Street to the river is to be priced up to see if this is a feasible proposition as well as a checking of the drain situation in South Street.
The EA have proposed the raising of some river banks and walls to sand bag height, The removal of some shale banks and removal of some trees along with the cutting of growth through Bats meadow. There is no proposal to address the problems that have now been caused by increasing capacity at Hordens bridge.
There is room down stream of Tesco foot bridge to increase river capacity that would take some pressure off of the Tarka trail but this is not being considered at this stage.
The major problem on the day of the flood was the Braunton car park height barriers. The village was cut in half due to the water in Caen Street. It meant that Emergency vehicles had to travel the long way around the village on single track roads, We had to unload large lorries of sand bags onto smaller vehicles to get to areas that needed them. If for any reason this had been the height of the summer there would have been massive disruption. The traders of the village need all the holiday trade they can get. These days the majority come on holiday with larger vehicles or have large roof racks and are unable to park easily in Braunton so go and shop in Tesco taking trade from the village. If the barriers came down I would expect a large increase in parking revenue over the peak weeks. More visitors to our Museum, TIC, Country side Centre and Surf Museum who all depend on foot fall. Braunton Parish Council please seriously look at this problem and support local traders.
If you speed up a length of river by straightening or widening it you will effect or flood lower areas of river.