Councillor calls for sandbags 
for residents

The area around Hawks Mill in Needham Market was hit by severe floods in May

The area around Hawks Mill in Needham Market was hit by severe floods in May

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A Mid Suffolk district councillor has called for Suffolk County Council to look at its policy towards the use of sandbags in flood emergency situations.

Councillor Wendy Marchant said the Joint Emergency Planning Unit, made up of all councils in Suffolk, decided a policy of not using sandbags to protect resident’s homes.

Cllr Marchant, whose ward in Needham Market was hit by severe flooding in May, said the unit suggested residents pay for flood boards to stop water getting in their homes. But she said the minimum price for a single door defence cost more than £2,000.

She said: “They are not just used for individual houses – if there is a stream of water going in the wrong direction a wall of sandbags could direct it from a number of houses.

“When we had the flooding in May the water was going down Hawks Mill Street and towards people’s houses.

If they had been able to build a wall of sandbags they could have redirected it.”

Resident Gordon Crosby said: “The sandbag position is simply unreasonable”

Following floods in 2007, an independent review of flood measures was undertaken by Sir Michael Pitt where he put forward recommendations to reduce the effects of flooding.

In the report, he said that sandbags were of ‘limited’ use in flood situations.

Cllr Marchant said: “The Pitt report does not say sandbags are of no use, just that they are of limited use.

“It does recommend the flood boards but they are very expensive. One of the reasons the council has against sandbags is that it could cause contamination but Mid Suffolk Council and the Environment Agency store them for use on their own buildings.”

Cllr Mike Norris, who also represents Needham Market, said: “It is a very frustrating policy because it is not consistent across the country.”

No-one at Suffolk County Council was available for comment.