Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP speaks out as floods continue to cause chaos
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Having visited parts of the community affected by floods last week, Mr Gibb says he has been in contact with Southern Water and the Environment Agency to demand that more is done to protect residents and businesses impacted by the weather.
His comments come after similar comments made by West Sussex County Councillor Keir Greenway who, last week, called on Bognor Regis Town Council’s support in a bid to urge the Environment Agency to action, and former Arun District Council leader Shaun Gunner, who demanded greater public scrutiny of government agencies responsible for flood responses.
As part of his efforts to support impacted members of the community, Mr Gibb visited parts of Middleton-on-Sea which were affected by flooding caused by excessive rainfall, as well as by sewage which backed up into resident’s toilets and gardens.
"I’m also concerned about sewage that flowed out of manholes in particular Middleton streets and gardens,” he said. “It is clear that the sewerage system does not have sufficient capacity to deal with sewage flows when there is a high level of surface water. I’ve asked for a meeting with Southern Water, the Environment Agency and local residents to discuss changes and upgrades that Southern Water need to make, not just in Middleton but in all the affected parts of Bognor Regis, including Shripney, Aldwick, Felpham and Pagham.”
On Sunday, he and Councillor Keir Greenway met with residents in Addison Way, Bersted, which has been flooded by heavy rainfall, the recent storm, and the overflowing rife. He said residents have had to improvise flood defences, and water has entered some people’s conservatories and garages.
“For years local farmers and residents have complained that the Environment Agency has failed to dredge the Aldingbourne and Lidsey Rifes and to remove the silt. We need the Rife to perform its historic role of protecting the area from flooding, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall,” he said.
“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Environment Agency to urge them yet again to commit resources to de-silting the Rife network, which is so crucial to protecting homes in this low lying area so close to the sea. We need to help the water flow down to the outfall not hinder its progress with silt and overgrown reeds.”
“We also need significantly more tankers to take away the water from Addison Way. Some tankers have been commissioned by Southern Water, but given the scale of the flooding we need more."
Mr Gibb also visited Climping, where the Sea defences came down last weekends thanks to the extreme weather, leading to flooding throughout the beach and nearby community.
Keen to protect people's homes, Mr Gibb said he will arrange a meeting with the Environment Agency, the parish council and residents to establish a plan of action for the months to come. Although the Environment Agency is committed to protecting the area for as long as possible, it may eventually become too expensive to do so, a spokesperson told Sussex World in an update.