Friday, June 29, 2007

Toll Bar

So the residents of Toll Bar are still underwater and are looking to lay blame. "If the mayor lived there [pointing] do you think this water would be here?" They're asking why the water wasn't diverted to the golf course and farmer's fields which are lower then the town.

Well I could make a glib answer about the fact that both the fields and course are businesses and thus make money while housing doesn't, but I think it has more to do with liability.

Diverting the water into these areas would have been an active response, the insurers might try to claim that the water wouldn't have been there if not for the actions of the EA/council therefore they're responsible. This of course doesn't let anyone off the hook, barriers could have been built or arranged to halt or slow the spread, and if these fields etc had got flooded this would have been a passive action on the part of the EA/council. In other words it's the difference between "We directed the water there on purpose" and "The water just happened to flood there perhaps because of the barriers".

Baroness Young on GMTV this morning quite rightly pointed out both the legacy of building on flood plains and the state and planning of the drainage systems. Remember thanks to the joys of privatisation the drainage is owned and maintained by the district water company whose sole purpose now is to maximise profits. Keeping drains clear costs money, blocked drains doesn't unless the company is fined (hah!) or can be shown to be negligent. Any one else remember the rail disasters and how long that dragged out for?

As for building on flood plains blame the government putting pressure on local authorities to allow it. It's much cheaper to build on virgin ground then it is on brownfield sites, so in this supposed housing crisis if a building company says that they're either building where they want or not at all, what to do?

As for the road structure, point the money at motorways and building more motorways to better enable large companies to deliver their goods with greater ease (we've actually signed up to a European agreement to do this), funnily enough there's only so much money around so of course local roads suffer.

Ah well more rain forecast, so more flooding. Everyone in government will run around for a bit blaming everyone else and pledging that this won't happen again. Then, like as not, dump all the responsibility on local government and the EA and not give them any extra funding. Then we'll all forget about it until it happens again at which point we'll start the cycle all over again.