VOTE: Is it acceptable residents had to tackle a flooded river themselves?

Ben Smith, Derek Taylor and John Vivash helped to clear debris from the River Lavant on New Year's Day
Ben Smith, Derek Taylor and John Vivash helped to clear debris from the River Lavant on New Year's Day

‘Inefficient’ handling of flood water in Lavant forced residents to take matters into their own hands.

On New Year’s Day, a team of determined volunteers took the plunge and cleared debris restricting the flow of the River Lavant, which had burst its banks.

John Slipper and Tony Bleach, who has been a Lavant resident for 82 years, condemned the lack of action by the authorities.

“It seemed the only way to ensure this would happen is to do it ourselves as various authorities seem to be passing the buck to others, instead of getting on and doing it,” said Tony.

“There has been too much talking and not enough doing. Our problems need to be addressed with common sense and not official mumbo-jumbo.

“Our main criticism is that millions has been spent south of Chichester to prevent flooding in Lavant, and then a few hundred pounds was not spent to clear the river bed which is a necessary part of the whole flood plan.

“There appears to be spare capacity in the river south of Lavant, which points to the blockages in East Lavant causing the flood.

“The cost of the flood to the local residents and the hall could be considerable and damages paid out to these could have been better spent on prevention.”

To ensure the river could flow more directly, the team spent the day clearing fallen branches and weed from the river at Sheepwash Lane in East Lavant.

Tony said: “The rallying call was met by around a dozen people and the piles of branches and weed, now on the pavement, shows what could be achieved and thanks are due to the volunteers.

“It is hoped the authorities will now take over the job of collecting this weed.”

Lavant Parish Council has been monitoring the flow of the river, which flooded over the Christmas period, causing roads to close.

Mike O’Neil, operations manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We are starting work on the Lavant today at West Dean – we are doing a maintenance cut.

“It is the legal duty of land-owners to keep their part of the river clear, but when it is in the wider public interest or when there is a risk of flooding such as this, we will go in.

“If people see anything causing a big risk, they can ring our help line on 0800 807060.”

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