Letter provokes row over flooding action

W39734H13 Bill Freeman and Geoff Patmore represent communities often plagued by flooding
W39734H13 Bill Freeman and Geoff Patmore represent communities often plagued by flooding

A LETTER pleading with the council not to allow major development in Lancing and Sompting has sparked a row between residents, councillors and politicians.

The open letter from Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham Jemima Bland and a handful of community representatives, outlined villagers’ concerns over plans for more than 1,000 homes at New Monks Farm and land in West Sompting.

It called for ‘active’ monitoring of sites with planning permission, enforcement of drainage maintenance agreements with developers, and financial support and advice for those facing the worst flooding.

The letter, appealed to Adur District Council not to allow house building on the flood plain, but some lines angered councillors and politicians alike.

It upset some at County Hall, as West Sussex County Council had already raised concerns over building on the flood plain in its official response to the Revised Draft Adur Local Plan.

Other parts of the document, which included claims that the Brighton and Hove Albion training complex was directly responsible for flooding on the West Beach estate, upset the apple cart elsewhere.

Adur Council leader Neil Parkin slammed the letter as ‘inaccurate, possibly libellous and hypocritical’, while Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, called it an ‘ill-informed and disingenuous, politically-motivated stunt’.

Mr Loughton said claims that ‘no effective action’ had been taken were a ‘gross distortion of the truth’, citing a 2013 flooding summit and subsequent action plan among examples of remedial work that had been carried out.

One of the signataries, Bill Freeman of Lancing Manor South East Residents’ Network, responded to the criticism by writing that he did support ‘the main thrust’ of the letter, but had not realised it would be sent directly to West Sussex County Council.

“Its message is clearly saying ‘do not build on the flood plains,” wrote Mr freeman.

“We will all continue to keep saying this to our elected district council members until we know that we have been listened to and concerns for the community’s wellbeing are top of the agenda.”