Businesses hash out solutions to floods in Bognor Regis as flood action group gains steam

Business owners from Bognor Regis and beyond hashed out solutions to local flood at a packed meeting on Thursday (February 29).
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Taking place at the Riverside Caravan Park, on Shripney Road, the meeting called together business owners from across the area to discuss a comprehensive, co-operative approach to floods.

The meeting was helmed by FACT; a cross-partisan pressure group formed by 67-year-old local David Alexander late last year, with the intention of pushing local agencies like Arun District Council, West Sussex County Council, The Environment Agency, MPs and Southern Water into decisive action.

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Floods have been an ongoing issue in Bognor Regis for several years, but things got worse late last year, when heavy rainfall increased the water levels at both the Barnham Rife and the Aldingbourne Rife. Shripney Road in particular continues to suffer; part of the road was temporarily closed last week after floodwater made it unsafe for motorists, and the area’s Tesco superstore has been forced to close several times since over the last few weeks.

Flooding in Shripney RoadFlooding in Shripney Road
Flooding in Shripney Road

Paul Wells, a Bognor Regis Town councillor and business owner who took part in the meeting, said: “The whole purpose of this meeting is to give the business community – which has been widely affected by the flooding – a voice which we can feedback to those in power."

Many business owners agreed on the need to dredge The Aldingbourne Rife, which The Environment Agency stopped doing more than 20 years ago. Some business owners made clear that they – alongside residents and members of the public – should be lobbying MPs and central government to effect change. Others – in particular representatives of local farmers – suggested forming an independent group which would monitor, maintain and dredge the rife for itself, safeguarding local land and businesses from further flooding.

The meeting took place just days after the first of several flood forums led by Arun District Council and West Sussex County Council. They are set to take place every quarter, and FACT organisers hope to feed back ideas and comments to participating bodies. Organiser David Alexander said: “We’re getting residents together, businesses together, we’re giving a voice to all the people this affects. The important thing is that we stay what we are: facilitators and co-ordinators.”