Flooding Concerns and Insurance
The new Morpeth flood defences have been tested long before any of us had hoped, and the good news is that they worked. Anxiety levels were high and concerns were expressed that no flood warnings were given. That is because flooding was not expected by the Environment Agency - the defences were working. That information should have been made available to reassure people. The dam upstream of the town closes automatically when the river reaches two or three feet below the top of the flood walls in the town. That is exactly what happened and any further rain would have been held back by the dam, keeping the river from overtopping the flood walls. The dam used only 20% of its capacity. The car park near the leisure centre is designed to take some flooding, so that was expected. The Town Hall became the hub of activity and was open to receive any flood victims, had there been any. Some Town Councillors were at the Town Hall or out and about in the town monitoring activity. These included the Mayor, Cllr Alison Byard, the Deputy Mayor Cllr Andrew Tebbutt and Cllrs Horton, Pope and Cassie amongst others.
Nobody should be complacent, but Morpeth was protected thanks to the timely initiative taken by the Liberal Democrats whilst they were in administration in the County Council. Had they delayed in taking action to find funding for the flood alleviation works, there is no doubt that Morpeth would have been flooded this January.
Insurance remains of public concern. The "Flood Re" Scheme takes effect in April and will limit the cost of insurance to those at high risk of flooding. It is complex, but includes all residences in private ownership built before 2009 and the contents of tenants in Buy to Let properties not covered by the scheme. The Town Council, which worked after the 2008 floods to ensure a scheme came into being, intends to take up the issue of coverage for small businesses, bringing pressure to bear so that they too are covered. A briefing note is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/292353/wa