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Residents in Purley and Kenley frustrated at lack of action on flooding


RESIDENTS in Purley and Kenley fear for their homes this winter – if more isn't done to avoid a repeat of February's flooding.

This was the message of frustration given on Monday afternoon, at a meeting to discuss the Purley Community Flood Plan (PCFP).

PCFP co-ordinator Tarsem Flora said the group have not been consulted by the council on forming a strategy to cope with the floods, and that they want to see a more permanent solution.

He said: "We want action. We want to see much more commitment from the council.

"We want to be in the decision-making process so we are there to make sure they come up with a good, effective, practical solution that will stop this happening in the future.

"They should be consulting us and involving us in the strategy they're producing, or why do we exist?"

Six months ago, residents were forced by floodwater to leave their homes, and areas including the Purley underpass and the fields at the Harris Primary Academy Kenley were deliberately flooded to try and cope with the volume of water.

Mr Flora submitted his own plan to tackle future floods to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) through Croydon Council last year, but it failed to win funding.

His solution is to pump water from outside Tesco to the top of the hill between the town and Croydon Airport, and create lakes on the existing marshland. These lakes could also be used for recreation.

Mr Flora hopes the council will now give him their backing to use the land for this scheme, and he will apply to DEFRA again himself.

Nicholass Court, in Dale Road, Purley, was evacuated during the flooding, and residents of the ground floor flats have still not been able to return to their homes.

One resident, who did not want to be named, had to stay in a hotel for five weeks. He said it will be several months before he is back home.

He added: "I'm dreading it happening again."

But the PCFP did praise the council for their initial emergency response to the floods when they hit.

Mr Flora said: "How everybody acted in an emergency was very good and for the local area we couldn't have expected any more."

The council gave flooded businesses £1,000 immediately after the floods, followed by further help.

They have also launched a flood resilience grant scheme, which gives residents affected by flooding this year up to £5,000 to flood-proof their homes. So far about 30 people have put in a claim.

The council is currently carrying out an investigation into the floods under Section 19 of the Flood and Water Management Act. The report is set to made available to the public in December.

Council officer Rowland Gordon said at this week's meeting that the authority has not been able to get any one to take responsibility for the flooding, as more than one party is responsible for the Catherham bourne.

But he added the council has still had to take action. It is bolting down manhole covers in Purley to stop water bursting through when levels rise, as well as cleaning the bourne between Tesco and Purley Baptist Church, where silt built up.

Temporary pipes put in during the worst of the flooding, to pump water away from the Kenley Waterworks into the open section of the bourne at Kenley Cricket Club, have now been removed.

Instead, a permanent pump to take water downstream to the open section of the bourne in Purley has been put in. The council is also getting the balancing pond at Purley Oaks Depot ready to be dredged of silt that built up there, so that it can hold more water.

Mr Flora said: "We are not happy. The council have done nothing serious.

"They have done a little bit here and there to convince the local community that they are doing something to make the situation better."

But Kenley councillor Steve O'Connell said the community had been brought together by the flooding.

He said: "There is a great community spirit that has come out of it. People came together and were supporting each other and people are the better for that."

Representatives from Croydon Council, the Environment Agency, the Greater London Authority, Croydon Flood Resilience Group and Kenley and District Residents Association attended the meeting.

Residents in Purley and Kenley frustrated at lack of action on flooding

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