Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Responding to the ever-changing weather

The wet and windy weather continues - as you might have seen, parts of West Sussex experienced strong gusting winds late on Saturday and we had yet more rain on Sunday.

Throughout the on-going bad weather, our Emergency Management Team have been beavering away in the background and the Fire and Rescue Service has been busy answering and dealing with callouts.

Seven hundred and fifty ‘incident calls’ were dealt with by the County Council outside normal working hours over the Christmas period alone. Of those, 250 were flooding related, 250 were to do with fallen trees and others were related to other incidents.

My thanks to our dedicated teams who work closely with partners such as the Environment Agency, Southern Water and District and Borough Councils for our response effort.

This is the second year that the dramatically changing weather pattern is affecting so many across the county and residents are rightly concerned. As one person mentioned this is now ‘a regular occurrence’.

So as a County Council we need to respond to the question of how do we manage in future years if this weather pattern is going to continue. This is something that we will certainly be looking at with our partners in the coming months. You can get more information on flooding on our website.

Last year we launched Operation Watershed, which has undoubtedly been a success, in particular the community element.

Completed schemes have held up against storm winds, heavy rainfall and very high tides, set against a backdrop of land absolutely saturated and drains full, leaving water with nowhere to go.

The £8.25 million allocated for Operation Watershed has been allocated and it was anticipated that the scheme would be wound up this spring. However, after the recent bad weather we know that there is more that could and should be done, particularly to help residents to help themselves. This is why we are currently looking for additional monies to invest in Operation Watershed 2014 for community projects.

More than 700 pot holes have been reported to the County Council since the start of the year and we have three extra gangs deployed to deal with these. But we also ask residents to help and do their bit – for example if you see a tree or branch that has fallen in your private ditch, please help by clearing it, as blocked ditches and watercourses can prolong drainage problems or stop water draining away properly.

I’m pleased to say that we are proposing an additional £30 million to be invested in our road network, which will pay for improvements to unclassified roads - these make up 55% of our entire network and include both residential and rural roads. This forms part of our draft budget, which will go before the next County Council meeting on Friday 14 February.

Best wishes,
Louise

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