UPDATE FROM THE PARISH COUNCILS
To receive the above verbal update.
Councillor Larcombe asked for a copy of the barrel arch inspection report and CCTV images. The Chairman said this was not a Parish Council matter and was the responsibility of the Borough, which would be dealt with structural engineers. Councillor Larcombe said it was important for the village residents to know what was in the barrel arch as they paid for the inspection and the barrel arch ran under the centre of the village. The Chairman said it was a live matter and would be dealt with the Borough and structural engineers.
Councillor Larcombe asked for progress information on the flat valve near Datchet, and Members were informed that this was being reviewed. Sue Fox said that as a result of the decision undertaken regarding River Thames Scheme, the Borough and EA were looking at alternative flood management in the local area. The Chairman said the flat valve was regarding the main river works rather than the in-land channel, which would not be impacted by the River Thames Scheme decision, and therefore could be progressed.
Councillor Larcombe addressed the failure of the maintenance of the land drainage infrastructure and requested for the £10 million available to invest in this area. The Chairman said the budget was assigned for Channel 1’s flood defences in the River Thames Scheme and the use of the £10 million was a matter for the Council. The available money from the EA could be used for infrastructure projects to defend residents.
The Chairman wanted to open a discussion on Battlemead with the Forum, which would be added to the next agenda as an item for a formal discussion.
Councillor Brar said the amended Battlemead Plan that was introduced on 20 July 2020 did not ensure that Cookham did not have an increased flood risk. The Council was committed to increasing biodiversity as part of the Environment and Climate Strategy, which included nationally designated areas for conservation actions like the Priority Flood Plain Grazing Marsh in the East Field. Dividing the habitats would harm the wildlife through habitat fragmentation. She said the Battlemead Plan must increase biodiversity whilst assessing the flood risk to ensure it was not increased in Cookham.
Councillor Stimson said the plan would not increase the flood risk, which was rendered with Aston Foot Ecology involved. The Battlemead Plan was paused because Friends of Battlemead were not consulted and that was a mistake. The Borough bought the land for £1 million for both access and biodiversity and an ecologist from Austin Foot was asked how accessibility could be achieved without threatening the biodiversity. The response was launched as a plan for Battlemead, which received a backlash and therefore was put on hold. There was a plan to set a meeting with the Friends of Battlemead in mid-September to discuss this issue, who would consult their own ecologist to tackle the question of accessibility and biodiversity.
Councillor Brar asked for the plan to incorporate an assurance that there would not be an increased risk of flooding in Cookham and the Chairman said there would be reassurance of this in the Plan.
Dick Scarff, Cookham Society, said White Brook was an important drainage in flood conditions for the south of Cookham. It was also an important access over the A4094 and the last dry access. The EA had limited dredging for flood purposes of White Brook channel and allowed minor maintenance to keep up enough flows for Maidenhead waterways. This was because the major flood flows were out of the channel across Battlemead Common, which was a wide and deep channel. There was little gradient on this section, and it needed to be kept clear of vegetation so that water could flow, which was not being incorporated in the management of Battlemead.
Councillor Stimson said she was a Maidenhead Waterways Champion and there was a Waterways member on the Friends of Battlemead group, and this issue would be taken to the meeting. Dick said whilst Maidenhead had low one-way flow during dry weather, Cookham had a problem of large flood flows in the opposite direction in times of heavy rainfall.
Martin Coker agreed with Dick Scarff and requested to share his correspondence which was circulated to some group members. He said the Borough promised that stakeholders would be kept informed when the land was bought, which did not happen. The report was published without consultation and there was concern that nobody was involved and there was a need to use the expertise in the Group. The Chairman asked if Martin was not informed as the Parish Council Flood Committee, which Martin confirmed.
ACTION: Martin Coker’s correspondence to be circulated with the Group.
The Chairman said Councillor Stimson should take away the concerns raised by the Group, to be addressed in the next meeting, with support from the EA to provide input to support Councillor Stimson. Councillor Stimson asked for any documentations that could be sent to her so that she could better understand the concerns.
Brianne said she did not attend the Friends of Battlemead group meeting in her capacity, but another team member from the biodiversity team would attend and feedback any concerns raised. With potential flood risk points to be raised in the September meeting, she was happy to attend the meeting.
The EA was involved in the Battlemead Plan as it was consulted as a statutory consultant for the new planning permission as part of Battlemead Common, who provided feedback as and when they were consulted. The site was also important to EA because it contained raised defences as part of the wider Windsor, Maidenhead and Eton Flood Alleviation Scheme. Work within this vicinity required EA’s permission and therefore EA was involved in the past and going forward in the Plan.
Councillor Brar asked if written reports could be provided instead of verbal reports for the Battlemead item. The Chairman said this was not always possible in fast-moving and dynamic situations, but written reports would be provided where possible.
ACTION: The flood management of Battlemead to be placed on the agenda, with written reports to be provided in advance of the meeting, where possible.
The Chairman thanked all officers, Members and attendees of the meeting.