A "task group" is to be set up in Surrey to review the county council’s response to devastating floods it was announced today.
The Conservative majority refused to debate a Lib Dem motion criticising flood preparedness and calling for specific action, during a meeting at Surrey County Hall this morning.
Tory councillors, who proposed their own motion, argued the Liberal Democrat’s proposals fell under the remit of the new flooding task group headed by environment and transport committee chairman Councillor David Harmer.
Afterth the meeting, a frutrated Lib Dem environment and transportation spokesman, Councillor Stephen Cooksey, said: "The administration motion in effect removes the criticism and the suggested action and provides an anodyne approach which adds nothing to what we already know."
County Councillor Tim Hall, who represents Leatherhead and Fetcham East, hit back saying: "That’s rubbish. We don’t know in many cases what caused the flooding. It’s silly, it’s premature."
The Lib Dem motion called on the council to update its flood asset register and wet spot list, review its policy of cleaning gullies at least once a year, plant trees, develop policies to avoid building on flood plains, repair roads and bridges and apply for funding.
During the meeting, Coun Hall described it as a "narrow-minded look backwards" which failed to address concerns in his area where about 120 properties were flooded. He said: "It was not the drains in the road, it was the river mate."
He said the floods hit different parts to those inundated last year and during the great flood of 1968, adding: "It’s a fast-moving thing that needs evidence, proper thought and an opening of minds."
Councillor Chris Townsend, who represents Ashtead on the county council, quoted someone he spoke to during the floods who told him: "I don’t want you to learn lessons, I want you to take action."
Leatherhead fire station during flooding on Christmas Eve
The Tory motion, which noted the infrastructure repair bill was more than £10m, resolved to continue helping flood victims, assess longer term solutions and call on the Government to fund a flood alleviation scheme.
A majority of councillors voted against critical amendments proposed by the Lib Dems to the Tory motion.
After the meeting, Residents’ Association County Councillor Eber Kington, who represents Ewell Court, Auriol and Cuddington, said he cut short the debate on the proposed amendment because it was "political ding-dong" and not in residents’ interests.
Coun Kington said the county council task group includes RA Councillor Peter Hickman and Conservative Councillor Denise Saliagopoulos adding: "It’s an excellent idea.
A pony is rescued from at field at Thorncroft Stables, Leatherhead
"It’s important to know what the problems were, how they might be better tackled and a whole range of things to be done."
Coun Harmer said the task group would be made up of six or seven councillors including Coun Cooksey and representatives from flood hit areas.
He said: "It is essentially to look at what happened this year. We want to look at previous recommendations and see what was implemented to give us an idea of what we can afford."
He said they will report back to the select committee that will then make recommendations to the cabinet so measures can be put in place before next winter.