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Lincolnshire County Council vows to improve approach to flooding after Christmas chaos in Bourne and Spalding

Lincolnshire County Council has vowed to improve its approach to flooding as a result of the issues at Christmas.

A meeting of the council's flood and water management scrutiny committee heard criticism of the council's response to flooding on December 23 and 24, in particular in Bourne and Spalding.

The council's head of environment David Hickman said "lessons had been learned" but that the council was caught off-guard because more rain fell than had been forecast.

Flooding in Bourne. Photo: Jason Richardson (43710946)
Flooding in Bourne. Photo: Jason Richardson (43710946)

"In the immediate run up to Christmas we suffered some localised high impact flooding particularly in South Kesteven and South Holland.

"There was certainly room for improvement in the way we prepare for flooding incidents that go beyond the forecast."

"We have put in place stronger arrangements to prepare in advance of these kinds of events."

He said the event was not "strategically large enough" to trigger a multi-agency response but was dealt with locally using the resources that were available, with fire and rescue crews providing increasing levels of support.

Mr Hickman also acknowledged there had been a "mismatch in the perception and expectation" of what resourse would be available in a "non multi agency arrangement".

He said the council was working with the Lincolnshire Resillience Forum and the district councils to redefine the response documentation so roles would be more clearly defined in the future.

Coun Robert Reid (Con), who represents Bourne South and Thurlby, said he helped with the response in Bourne on December 23, wearing "galoshes and wellingtons" and said: "There wasn't a great deal of coordination and that's the polite way of saying it."

He said he felt "helpless" as a councillor and said: "We need to be more prepared."

Coun Christine Lawton (Con), representing Spalding South, praised crews for "working tirelessly all over Christmas", adding: "I think lessons will be learned from this."

Between 11am and 10pm on December 23, about 44.6m fell in the southern part of Bourne and 52.8mm of rain fell in Spalding.

A "best estimate forecast" had predicted up to 15mm and a worst case scenario was 30mm in 24 hours but the risk of widespread flooding was considered to be low.

Mr Hickman also said the council was reviewing the provision and availability of sandbags, which he pointed out the council doesn't have to provide. The meeting also heard that sandbags used in flooding have to be specially disposed of as they're contaminated with water afterwards.

South Kesteven district councillor Helen Crawford (Con) said sandbags were insufficient, adding: "In Bourne we needed huge water pumps."

The council will also be working to educate homeowners on what they can do to protect themselves.

Councillors also raised issues with the Fix My Street website, which residents had used to report flooded drains which had not been attended to.

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