Councillor Bower, in his recent letter to the Observer, has spectacularly shot himself and Arun District Council in the foot by admitting surface water run-off from new-build areas, such as Site 6, caused overloading in downstream areas with much older drainage systems, thus contributing to recent excessive flooding.
At the planning application stage, local people were vociferous this would happen, but Arun went ahead anyway and now local people have directly suffered as a result.
And, indeed, they will continue to suffer unless direct action is taken to solve the problem before it happens again.
Yet now we have a draft Local Plan from Arun which proposes further house building, but contains nothing at all which will prevent the kind of flooding we have recently seen.
A prime example is the possibility of 2,000-plus houses in the Westergate/Woodgate area, from which run-off will go via the Rifes and other streams directly to cause flooding in the Shripney, Bognor, Felpham and Middleton areas, and no amount of so-called ‘sustainable drainage systems’ will do anything to prevent this.
This was discussed at the recent Civic Society meeting, and it was felt Arun District Council and all its individual councillors owe a duty of care to the residents of the district to pay close attention to the knowledge those residents have of their own area, and not to do anything which local people feel may endanger their environment.
Cllr Bower has admitted Arun’s knowledge of what they have done, and now it is incumbent upon him and his council to put the matter right before further damage occurs.
Pursuant to this, the meeting unanimously voted the Draft Local Plan should be specific in stating there should be no further house building in this area until work has been carried out to ensure areas recently flooded will not suffer this again, bearing in mind we all know that climate change means Cllr Bower’s ‘unprecedented amount of rainfall’ is likely to be repeated before too long.
Duty of care means paying careful attention to not causing the problem in the first place, and also putting it right if you’ve made a mistake.
But it also means vigorously taking up the issue on the residents’ behalf with central government to ensure no further house building takes place until the problem is solved.
Please go to it, Cllr Bower, instead of making excuses.
Bognor Regis Civic Society