Headlines: July 29th, 2009

Councils are warning that new laws which would make them responsible for managing flood risks could leave local authorities short of money for other services. The claim has come in local government’s response to consultations on the draft Floods and Water Bill.

The proposals would give councils a leading role in managing surface water in their areas, something authorities have called for in the past. That would involve them coordinating water companies and the Environment Agency as well as other partners to ensure drainage systems work and that homes are protected from floodwater.

In its response to the consultation, however, the Local Government Association, has criticised Government calculations and has dismissed the suggestion that councils would be able to meet the costs of their new role from savings made in having less work to do in clearing up after floods. The LGA has also called for work to ensure there will be additional training courses so councils can get the expert engineers, inspectors and planners they would need to manage drainage systems.

The Chairman of the LGA’s Environment Board, Paul Bettison, said: “Town halls are ready to take the lead on improving flood risk management but it should be clear that they will need funding to properly protect people’s homes.” Calling on the Government to look again at its calculations he added: “When councils spend money clearing up after floods it comes from budgets for other services, so it is wrong to say that councils can pay for this new role by cutting spending on flood clear up.”