‘Important’ council flood survey that suffers from missing links

Our Town Hall reporter, KEN LEE, tries to navigate an error-strewn strategy document that has taken 10 years to draft

Flooded: the council has a legal duty to consult on its flooding ‘strategy’

Another day, another facile survey issued by Croydon Council, this time asking residents for their views on its “strategy” for flooding.

Trouble is, the online survey has been cobbled together so badly, anyone going to the bother of attempting to provide informed responses is thwarted because someone at the council forgot to add in the links to key documents and proposals.

There could be a reason for this: a decade after serious flooding damaged hundreds of properties in and around Kenley and Purley, causing widespread disruption for weeks that required 24/7 intervention from the emergency services and even saw the Army called in, Croydon Council does not appear to have a properly completed strategy at all.

This has come to light after the council issued a press release last week asking the public to take part in a (legally required) survey of its flood risk planning documents.

But residents who have gone to the time and trouble of trying to answer the council’s survey and found themselves caught in a Croydon online wormhole, confronted by more blanks than an edition of Blankety Blank.

Half-arsed and half-finished: the council document does exist…

Under “Section 2 – objectives and measures for managing flood risk in Croydon”, the council survey says, “This section covers the proposed objectives and measures developed to manage flood risk within the borough.

“Please read Section 2 before answering the following questions.” Fair enough, any reasonably minded Council Tax-payer might think.

This is followed by: “More information about the proposed objectives and measures is available in the full strategy document [link].”

But there is no link to the full strategy document.

A two-minute-long investigation by Inside Croydon (we Googled “Croydon Council flooding full strategy document”) uncovered that such a document does exist.

Titled: “Local Flood Risk Management Strategy: 2023-2028” a second, draft version is locatable on the council website, having been written nine months ago, in September 2022. You can see the document for yourself by clicking here.

But don’t get too excited…

We cannot be certain that this is the document that the council wants to associate with its very important survey, because even at 40 pages, “Draft 2” is incomplete and badly written.

Unchecked: did someone forget to write the foreword?

Where there’s supposed to be a foreword, an introduction to the strategy, written by a senior councillor, perhaps the cabinet member responsible, or even piss-poor Perry, the council’s elected Mayor, there’s just a heavily asterisked note that says, “Foreword *to be written by Croydon Council*”.

On the contents page, there’s a whole series of errors that appear to have been flagged up by the document’s software.

And then there’s the case studies which amount to nothing more than statements of the bleedin’ obvious.

For a flood event case study about the flooding of the River Wandle, the report has used a picture showing the underpass at Purley Cross under several feet of water in August 2015. The River Wandle flows north-westwards, from South Croydon, without going anywhere near Purley.

The council report then tells us, “During this event, the River Wandle was reported to have burst its banks at multiple locations downstream, in Sutton. Despite not being within the area of Croydon, this indicates that the River Wandle was flowing at high levels and that this watercourse is capable of bursting its banks.” No Shit, Sherlock!

The poorly proofed document is strewn with errors: “Whilst the Environment Agency are [we might quibble with the poor grammar here] responsible for the management of main rivers, Croydon Council… are [ditto] responsible for the management of ordinary watercourses.”

And then, in bold print so that no one could really miss seeing it: “Error! Reference source not found.”

There’s several more of these errors on the following pages.

Then, on page 38, there’s “Appendix C – Action plan”.

Which is blank.

“Appendix E – Croydon flood risk maps” is also blank. Which is a bit of a let down.

So this Google-able council document is clearly only a work in progress.

Which is a shame, because for thousands of residents in the south of the borough, many of whom will remember the weeks of flooding they had to endure in early 2014, this is a very important issue and one which they might reasonably expect, nearly a decade later, their local council to have some kind of contingency plan in place.

If Croydon Council does have such a plan, they have a funny way of sharing it.

The council’s new flooding strategy survey has other blank links, too. Question 19 says, “How strongly do you agree or disagree with the action plan that details how we will monitor the progress of the objectives? {link to appendix C}”. There is no link. Although as we have established from the draft report, there is no action plan either…

There’s an earlier question in the survey which might draw some interesting answers from residents: “8: How strongly do you agree or disagree that it is clear what Croydon Council’s role is in flood risk management for the borough?”

In the announcement of the survey from the propaganda bunker in Fisher’s Folly, they say,
“The council has a duty to plan for how it will work with other agencies and organisations to reduce the risk of flooding.” So this is a report that is required by law.

“The council would especially like to hear from those who may be at higher risk of flooding,” it says.

“Feedback received through the survey will help update the strategy before it goes to cabinet for approval later this year.” Who knows, they might manage to fill in all the blank pages by then.

“We’ve experienced flooding in parts of our borough before,” is a quote attributed to that human dynamo, Jason Perry.

“It’s really important that all agencies in Croydon are working together to manage any risk, and that we are properly prepared for any emergencies,” the £82,000 per year part-time Mayor is supposed to have said.

Perhaps next time, Piss-poor Perry might prepare himself for such press release quotes by reading the council report first, or even undertaking the survey itself, just to check that the links are all where they are meant to be.

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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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9 Responses to ‘Important’ council flood survey that suffers from missing links

  1. Sarah Bird says:

    Words fail me .The bar for ineptitude is set very high

  2. John says:

    Are there any grown ups working for the Council?

  3. Peter Underwood says:

    As the climate changes the threat of flooding is increasing. Councils should be putting more efforts into protecting residents, but this half-hearted and poorly thought-out approach seems to be the Mayor’s attitude when it comes to issues that really matter to Croydon residents.

    Croydon needs politicians who really care about residents, not these part-timers who only turn up to collect their allowances.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      This is crass incompetence of administration, and it is not that they do not know – they do.

      Roll on Election time and vote for whoever wil lend this idiocy

  4. Chris Flynn says:

    During 2014 floods, wasn’t water pumped along massive pumps along Godstone Road and dumped at Purley Cross? So it’s effective an artificial overspill reservoir that is an available emergency option, rather than a natural source of flooding.

  5. Ian Kierans says:

    I do wonder what exactly is going on here.
    You have a Website. You have (or had) some pretty good IT people. You have a wealth of experience at setting up consultation surveys (or did) You have Town Planners (misnomer perhaps) You have a bundle of research. You have identified Risk factors (that smack you in the face regularly as they are unmitigated)
    So HTF did this eton mess get online?
    IT Room 101 – Test site before publishing, check data check links work, ensure capacity allows access and will not get overloaded.

    This Council continues to cease to function and has cut competence to the level of a parody. It really should have been put out of its misery a few years ago.

    The opposition Councillors should be screaming for answers to basic questions and campaigning for an urgetnt and public investigation as to whether this body is any longer fit for purpose – So why are they not doing so?
    There are decent Conservative Councillors who should also be asking those questions and putting their residents first above party whips as this is affecting homes and causing a lot of risk to people. So why are they not doing so?

    Broken consultation and broken statutory and legal duty –
    No one taking them to task? = Broken regulations, laws brought into disrepute – public administration brought into disrepute = Central Government incompetence and that also coming into disrepute.

    The Council went digital some time ago, pity they knew F**k all about how to do that competently.

    Seriously if anyone has to be in contact with a Council employee in a Customer facing role they should thank them profusely, for surviving first then for taking the time to provide us a service at all, given the conditions they have to work in. If they are able to deliver a high level of service or just get things done properly for residents we should nominate then for a Royal award – they deserve it considering all the barriers they face.

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