Government minister No 2 visits North Somerset

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By Prue_Reid | Friday, September 28, 2012, 17:19

A Government minister paid a visit to North Somerset this week to see for how the recent storms affected the area.

On Thursday afternoon David Heath, Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, went to Congresbury to see its flood defences firsthand man and learn about the work of the volunteer community resilience project in the village.

According to Congresbury History Group the village has long suffered from poor drainage and floods.

Its website says: "In 1607 a great part of Congresbury was hidden by the sea and in 1656 a surveyor complained of the muddy moist unhealthiness of the air and poverty or idleness or both of residents in improving drainage. Of the great storm in 1703 the vicar of Ubley, not far away, wrote that the wind caused the sea to come in and their ground was spoiled and their cattle drowned. Indeed the moors were often covered by water for several months each year and not until the 1820s was anything major done. Many villagers remember 1968, when flood water reached 6ft 5in high in the Ship & Castle and 4ft in the Old Inn. Much has been done to prevent such problems recurring."

But this time it was parts of Claverham, Chew Magna, Locking, near Weston and Wrington which bore the brunt of the excessive rain earlier in the week and last month it was Nailsea which made national headlines with road and homes flooded after torrential downpours.

The minister was given a briefing by the Environment Agency about the weather conditions Congresbury had to contend with during the past few days and the way the flood defences had worked.

He also met officers and councillors from North Somerset Council including executive member for environment Peter Bryant and Congresbury councillor Tom Leimdorfer as well as community resilience volunteers.

Mr Leimdorfer said: "The river rose by 70mm which was more than in the 1960s flood.

"The levels came up to an unprecedented height but this time the defences held although 12 properties were flooded in Kent Road.

"This was mostly from surface water running off Wrington Hill and Cadbury Hill and onto the A370.

"We need to have a flood plan in place for surface water which is what caused the problems in Nailsea."

The minister was then shown the flood defences and went to visit some residents who had been affected by the poor weather.

Mr Bryant who is a Weston district councillor said: "The minister was able to see the challenges we face at first hand.

"We do have a good rapport with the Environment Agency and have been working especially closely with them in the last week.

"It was very pleasing to see him meeting community resilience volunteers and hearing directly from them about their role, not just in the event of flooding, but any major incidents affecting the village."

Emergencies can happen anywhere and anytime.

Community Resilience is about communities using local resources and knowledge to help themselves in an emergency in a way that complements the response of the emergency services.

Congresbury is a pilot project for community resilience.

To learn more about community resilience in North Somerset click HERE.



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