No strategy for flood prevention: Green Councillor Slams Islington Council failure

Green Party Councillor Caroline Russell has expressed her outrage at the Council’s failure to develop a flood prevention strategy in Islington, in spite of the considerable risk to local residents, and particularly, the likelihood of major transport disruption. 

Environment Agency maps show that key infrastructure in the Borough is at high risk of flooding from surface water. This includes Holloway Road, Blackstock Road, Gillespie Road (including the school) and St Paul’s Road. Several tube stations are at medium to high risk too, including Finsbury Park, which is one of the top ten most at risk stations in London. Council officials have confirmed that in the event of a flood, the Borough would rely on the Overground lines to act as drains. Any flood waters would be contaminated by sewage, so stations could be out of action for several days, at least. Shops and businesses at risk could also be severely affected. 

At a recent Council scrutiny meeting, Council Officials stated that the reason that a strategy has not been developed is that it ‘hasn’t been a priority’, despite the Council’s legal responsibility to do so. The Council has now said that it is working to publish a strategy for public consultation in early 2017. 

Flood risk was identified as a major concern for the borough back in 2008. Former Green Councillor for Highbury West ward (2006-10) Katie Dawson was successful in getting a new policy on surface water flood prevention incorporated into Islington Council’s planning guidelines, which contained very specific measures aimed at addressing the situation before a serious flood event occurred.

Katie Dawson said: “I think it was the first policy of its kind to be introduced by a local authority in this country. The fact that they largely ignored the policy – rather than implementing it and developing it further – means we are in this situation of unpreparedness 7 – 8 years later!”

Cllr Caroline Russell AM said: “The misery caused to Islington residents by this flood today on Upper St shows why flood risk preparedness should have been a priority for Islington Council.  It was raised as a risk back in 2008 by former Green Councillor Katie Dawson who got surface water flood prevention incorporated in to Islington planning policy.   The Labour council has done nothing to plan for flooding and is now one of 12/152 Local Authorities not to have even consulted on a plan. This is irresponsible and today Islington residents are bearing the brunt of the council’s inaction” 

“A year on since Storm Desmond devastated residents across Cumbria, the country faces more extreme rainfall due to climate change. Here in Islington, the impact could be felt heavily; in light of the risk of severe transport disruption, and flooding of businesses and people’s homes, it is astounding that the Council have failed to act.

Since 2011, the Council has been allocated funding to deal with flood prevention, and yet it has failed to do so. Islington Council must now take rapid action to get a strategy in place. I‘m glad that the Council is finally working towards this. I will be doing all I can to hold them to account on this commitment, and would encourage Islington residents to engage with the public consultation when this launches next year.”


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