A note on floods, and flood defences


shoebury common sea defences

I don’t know if you noticed, but it’s been a little wet lately.

This hasn’t exactly been a barrel of laughs anywhere across the country, and certainly Southend has gotten off better than most — so far. But we still have a fair amount of water lingering on our doorstep in the form of the Thames Estuary. And it’s not likely to be going away any time soon.

So flooding and the flood defences are an important issue. Around Shoebury, they’re also a bit of a sore point. Anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about is well advised to have a look at the blog of Tony Cox, Tory councillor for West Shoebury and my opponent in the May election. It has been a long running issue on which he has provided a detailed, though unavoidably one-sided, commentary.

Simply put: not everyone is particularly keen on the proposed 6ft flood defence wall. That’s not terribly surprising, but it does seem to have gotten a fair number quite fired up. The “Friends of Shoebury Common” group seem to feel that they have been poorly treated by the council in general, and Cllr Cox in particular. Cllr Cox seems to feel that he hasn’t exactly been treated fairly either, as a series of posts about the matter entitled “Bare faced liars” seems to indicate.

I don’t really know what to think with the “he said, she said” nature of all those this. Truthfully, I suspect most residents don’t care. They elect councillors to make decisions, not bicker with protest groups. And equally councillors have to represent the whole of their ward, not simply a vocal minority.

The picture is complicated by the preponderance of resident protest groups in the area. Aside from the aforementioned Friends of Shoebury Common, the Saxon King in Priory Park (SKIPP) group aren’t too keen on the council’s solution either — though what Priory Park has to do with Shoebury Common, I’ve no idea. There also seems to be some sort of involvement from the Burges Estate Residents Association (BERA).

I wish that were all, but politically we also have the Independent party not-a-party acting as a political wing of the above groups. And I must say I’m looking forward to seeing which side UKIP candidate James Moyies comes down on.

I do actually have some experience of flooding issues. When I sat on Wargrave Parish Council, one of my objectives (and, actually, an objective of my fellow councillors) was to limit the damage done each year by the Thames flooding, through limiting building on the flood plain. Our objections were almost all overruled by Wokingham Borough Council, but I offer this little walk down nostalgia lane as evidence that I am indeed concerned about the impact of flooding, and generally of the opinion that what action that can be taken to mitigate it, should be.

But I don’t plan to make the flood defences the lynchpin of my campaign. I wish I could declare that this is the last I will say on the matter, but I’m aware enough to know that is unlikely. I am fairly sure, however, what with council cuts biting some of the most vulnerable areas in the borough, there are a large number of West Shoebury residents for whom flood defences are not top of their concerns.

3 comments

  1. It is not the fact that Southend Council want to spend £5.2m on a 2 metre high wall through a 100 year old Common, which has never flooded before, not even in 1953, it is accepting a design that 85% of the local residents & visitors do not want and with 4 other designs on the table. The second Council design is £2.2m CHEAPER, but they would rather close care homes, libraries & Play Schools, just to get rid of the 55,000 tons of soil taken from the Cliffs slippage. Let us spend much more money on flood defences, but not take monies from a shrinking fund, when other areas, such as Somerset, are flooding NOW, not in 50 years time. In 1953 Shoebury Common was lower than Southchurch, but serious flooding, with 5 foot of water & two lives lost, was the outcome in Southchurch. 600mm or 2 foot has been added to the wall at Shoebury Common since that time with sea level rises of only 205mm (8 inches), according to the Port of London Authority.

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  2. There are many very good reasons why the Council’s preferred option for the sea defences at Shoeburyness is a poor one. I sincerely hope that you as our new potential councillor will take the time to look more carefully at this matter. You must be concerned that so many us with very good reasons not to support the building of the wall from salvaged material elsewhere in Borough have not had our views respected and that this may very well lose the current administration votes in the next election. I just hope you are the credible alternative for voters in West Shoebury now. Please convince us by leafletting and publicising your views as soon as possible to show that you care more than those currently in office.
    We desperately need a voice for those of us who care about those in need; those currently unrepresented. There is a great deal of poverty now in the Borough brought about by current Government policy. Food banks are now a common weekly needed phenomenon which I support but wish I did not have to. I have not seen any publicity or ideas from Labour candidates yet so please do something brilliant and inspire us.

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