A FURIOUS councillor has been left ‘horrified’ after it was announced the flood protection scheme is to go ahead without the Royal Borough.
The £640 million River Thames Scheme – which was set up to protect 15,000 homes from Datchet to Teddington from flooding – is to leave the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) behind.
This means channel one – which was to protect Datchet and surrounding areas – is being postponed while channel two and three is to be progressed, the River Thames Scheme Sponsor Group – which has representatives from Surry County Council, the Environment Agency, Thames Water, and more – has decided.
Back in 2017, RBWM approved making a £53 million contribution into the scheme and has, so far, put in £10 million.
Councillor David Cannon (Conservative: Datchet, Horton, and Wraysbury), lead member for public safety and parking, announced on his Facebook page the scheme will continue without channel one as ‘they are not prepared to wait further’ for RBWM to secure further funding.
He said: “Despite intensive lobbying of Ministers by Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead officers, the council leader, our MP Adam Afriyie and myself, the government has failed to provide the mechanism to raise funding to pay for this scheme.
“We have been pushing for the government to provide the legislation needed to permit local authorities to raise funds by the way of a flood infrastructure levy.
“We have always stated that this legislation is required, to enable RBWM to fund its contribution to the scheme.
“We remain as committed as we were in 2017 when we approved our £53 million contribution to the scheme, to enable the scheme, however without the legislation, the council does not have the ability to fund its commitment, at this time.”
In response, fellow ward councillor, Ewan Larcombe (National Flood Prevention Party) said he was ‘shocked and horrified’ by this news – and claims this situation was ‘totally avoidable’.
He said: “The Royal Borough had years to sort this out and now Datchet, Horton, and Wraysbury, and, in fact, Old Windsor, have been abandoned.
“All I see is the big towns – Windsor, Eton, and Maidenhead – benefitting from an enormous flood alleviation scheme 20 years ago that they didn’t have to contribute to and all they’ve done is dump us in the mire.
“We’ve had promises for years to have improved flood defences and now it’s down the pan.”
Cllr Larcombe added he can foresee more severe flooding happening due to the scheme going ahead without RBWM as well as poorly maintained or blocked land drainage infrastructure in Datchet, Horton, and Wraysbury, he claims.
However, Cllr Cannon said the two channels will still ‘bring some benefit to residents’ – but less so than if channel one was progressed.
Cllr Larcombe said he is ‘certain’ that there are other ways RBWM could secure further funding such as borrowing and believes his ward is better off joining Surrey to get better flood defence.
Surrey County Council managed to secure £237 million last year for their piece of the channel to go ahead.
Datchet and its surrounding areas was heavily flooded back in 2014 where approximately 1,000 homes were affected.