Ex-councillor wants answers over Horncastle flood plan

Richard Barker
Richard Barker

A Horncastle businessman and former town councillor has hit out at on-going delays to the town’s multi-million pound flood defences.

The News revealed last week that agreements had still not been reached with owners of land on which the £8.8m scheme will be based.

District councillor and local flood warden Fiona Martin said talks were progressing well but admitted the landowners held the key to the project.

Now, Richard Barker has questioned the delays and asked why details of the scheme have been announced, before any land agreements have been put in place.

He said: “In May 2005 I attended a meeting given by the Environment Agency regarding the Flood Relief Scheme for the River Bain and the Waring.

“The impression given was that apart from funding, all other matters were in hand, subject to reviewing design data.

“When I served on the Flood Action Group, up until I resigned from the Town Council in March 2013, matters were proceeding and a March 2015 date had been confirmed and funding had been secured.

“What no party/agency owned up to was the fact that no deal/negotiations/options had been entered into by the authorities with the landowners on whose land this project would be built.

“How can you design a scheme if you have not secured the land?

“Thousands of pounds worth of professional fees have been expended over at least 10 years, redesigning the scheme and to what end.

“Anyone with any understanding of civil engineering projects, or just using common sense, will know that the land has to be secured before fees and other costs are expended.

“This is gross incompetence by all involved and based on assurances given over the last months and years the various bodies responsible for delivering the project, in confirmed time scales, have totally misled the public/tax payer and should own up to their failures and resign and be replaced by competent professionals.”

Mr Barker says he has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for details of the costs accumulated to date.

Planning permission for the scheme has been submitted to East Lindsey District Council but no actual start date has been announced.