Winter is coming

Posted on 29/11/2016 by Ed Hammond. Tags: , ,

With winter comes emergencies and floods. Last year, we published a detailed blogpost setting out some ideas for practitioners – this post is just intended as a gentle reminder, now we’re heading into the season when this kind of thing now happens with alarming regularity – starting with the first winter storm of the season last week.

Council scrutiny functions have unique powers to oversee local flood risk management plans (originally brought in by the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009). This follows the significant success that scrutiny had in some areas (especially Gloucestershire) engaging with the Environment Agency and other local partners to address flood risk and understand the lessons that could be learned from previous flooding. It links closely to councils’ broad responsibilities on emergency planning, which can be found in the Civil Contingencies Act. 

Our post from January 2016 is here –

An LGA “scrutiny of flooding toolkit” was published in 2010, with our input, and can be found here –

We also published a Policy Briefing about the subject back in 2013, but it’s still relevant. You can find it here –

You might not want to wait until the flood defences breach before putting some work in on this subject. If you do live in an area where there is a risk of flooding, it might be an idea to prepare by:

  • Making contact with the relevant officer in the council to find out what current plans and mitigation are;
  • Reminding yourself of the key local and national plans and strategies that will underpin any response to flooding;
  • Thinking about what scrutiny (and councillors generally) might do if a flooding emergency does happen – both as it is under way and in the aftermath.

As we saw with the flooding in York earlier this year, floods can affect areas which previously had no history of serious inundation, so while it’s sensible to task a risk-based approach in how you engage with this subject, it does no harm to familiarise yourself with some of these details even if you think the chance of it happening are fairly remote.

As ever, we are here to offer any advice, support and guidance as you grapple with this topic – and anything else that relates of civil contingencies and emergency response.


About the Author: Ed Hammond

Ed leads CfGS's work on devolution, transformation and on support to councils and other public bodies on governance and accountability.