09:00PM, Thursday 18 February 2021
Parish councillors have raised concerns after they received a letter from the Environment Agency and the Royal Borough asking for their ideas on an alternative to the River Thames Scheme.
Currently there are plans to build a new flood channel alongside the Thames, in three sections spanning multiple local authorities. This requires those councils’ financial contributions.
However, the River Thames Scheme (RTS) channel proposed for the Royal Borough is not going ahead due to a lack of funding, sparking a petition that has fetched 1,170 signatures.
The petition, started by Wraysbury parish councillor Margaret Lenton, asks the Royal Borough to ‘to honour its commitment to partnership funding of the River Thames Scheme.’
“We urge the Borough to seek alternative partnership funding arrangements,” the petition reads. “Working in partnership is important to the success of the RTS in its entirety.”
Since then, parish councillors have been asked for alternative ideas on how to tackle the flood risk in the area, in a letter signed by the Environment Agency and Councillor David Cannon, lead member for public protection.
“They’re asking us what we think ought to be done, to provide information in an area that requires specialist knowledge,” said Mrs Lenton. “This parish council is at a loss as to what to say.”
Other parish councillors have also expressed surprise at this approach.
Cllr Ewan Larcombe of the National Flood Prevention Party (Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) said that this letter is the first official communication on the subject and that the Royal Borough ‘had years to tell us the truth’.
“The Borough is not interested because there’s no return on their investment,” he said.
He added the council had spent ‘enormous amounts of money in Maidenhead’ on car parks and leisure centres and claimed it had ‘abandoned the parish outposts’.
In response, Cllr David Cannon (Con, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) said: “The current administration has flood risk across these communities high on its agenda. The most valuable return on any investment in such schemes is always the protection of the community from flood risk. Cllr Larcombe’s comments are totally groundless.”
He added the council had provided £10 million funding to date towards the scheme and had committed up to another £43 million, subject to Government enabling it to raise the funding to repay that amount.
“Unfortunately the required change of legislation hasn’t happened and the council cannot borrow the funding without the ability to repay it,” he added.
“We remain bitterly disappointed that we have been unable to proceed with the section of the River Thames Scheme which lies within Datchet and Wraysbury.
“The Royal Borough is working with the Environment Agency to identify and progress alternative affordable and deliverable flood alleviation to the communities downstream of Windsor and remain committed to the River Thames Scheme (Datchet to Bells Weir) if an affordable funding stream can be secured.”
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