Councillors received no updates during a week of flooding

Elected councillors in Croydon and the borough’s senior staff were not sent any updates on the flooding situation for six days at the height of the crisis.

Godstone Road has been closed to traffic for more than a week now due to flooding and the emergency service's pumping operation

Godstone Road has been closed to traffic for more than a week now due to flooding and the emergency service’s pumping operation

Croydon councillors and officers received a situation report just after 6pm last night, sent by Hayley Lewis, the “head of customer communications and engagement” at the council headquarters in Fisher’s Folly.

It was the first flood update sent to them since the previous Friday, and warned of continuing “high alert” for the emergency services working around the clock in Kenley and Purley going into the weekend.

Croydon’s Gold Command multi-agency emergency committee had declared a “Major Incident” around the Kenley water treatment works last Thursday, February 6.

Staff in Lewis’s communications department have been on duty from 8am to 8pm during the floods crisis, apparently to update the council website with information for the public (although the warning about bogus officials acting suspiciously in the Kenley area was posted several hours later yesterday by Croydon than by Tandridge Council in Surrey).

But Croydon’s emergency situation reports, sent by email to the borough’s 70 councillors and senior staff, stopped being distributed a week ago, just as the fire brigade and emergency services moved in to create Purley Pond, the overflow balancing pool in the pedestrian underpass outside Tesco’s at Purley Cross.

“In emergency situations, these alerts are vital to keep councillors, many of whom hold down their own jobs or run businesses, up to date with important matters which might impact residents in their wards and allow us to take action if necessary,” one councillor told Inside Croydon.

“Even a ‘no-change’ message can be important,” the councillor said. “But in the past week we were not given a heads up about the underpass flooding, the closing of a school or the evacuation of a care home and the use of the council headquarters as an emergency refuge. Isn’t that exactly the sort of information that senior council officials should be promptly sharing as soon as it is available with all elected councillors in the interests of their residents?”

It's the Bourne what dunnit: the billboard under the railway bridge at flood-hit Purley with a fateful message about some forthcoming attractions coming out of the Sky

It’s the Bourne what dunnit: the billboard under the railway bridge at flood-hit Purley with a fateful message about some forthcoming “attractions” coming out of the sky. The Caterham Bourne’s flooding due to heavy rainfall has caused the crisis

Last night’s long overdue update to councillors included a weather warning for today, when heavy rains and storm-force winds are expected again, and likely to see a further rise in the levels of the Caterham Bourne, the seasonal stream which has been overflowing through Kenley and causing the flooding along its course beside the Godstone Road.

“From around 6am tomorrow into the weekend, we’re expecting very heavy rain,” the council update said.

“The Kenley water treatment works is, at this point in time, in a good place – with the London Fire Brigade working with the council and the water company on pumping the flood water out.  With the creation of the additional balancing ponds at the St John the Baptist Church, the school playing field of Harris Kenley and the cricket ground, we have created some contingency ahead of the severe weather tomorrow.

“Nonetheless, all agencies within gold command continue to be on high alert.”

Other details in the council’s internal situation report on Thursday included:

  • There was another small-scale evacuation last night of Liddell Court, in Foxley Hill Road. This led to eight people being transported to the rest centre which has been set up in Bernard Weatherill House. As with Tuesday night, this evacuation was calm and orderly.
  • Staff from parking services were out today carrying out letter drops to residents and putting letters on vehicles as the roads are full with commuter parking. We will have delivered approx. 2000 letters today. We are allowing footway parking due to the flooding on St James Road, Beverley Road, Valley Road and Northwood Avenue.
  • Staff from both communications and economic development went out to speak to some of the most affected businesses along the Godstone Road. The team will be going back out tomorrow to speak to remaining businesses.
  • In addition, we have organised some A-boards to be put in place tomorrow along the shopping parade – these will say that businesses are open.
  • To report rising groundwater levels or flooding, residents are asked to call the Environment Agency Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60. You can also sign up to the free groundwater Flood Alert/Warning service by calling Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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