The battle to protect our town must go on

Town councillors Fiona Martin and Brian Burbidge who  are hoping work will continue to improve the town's surface water drainage  schemes
Town councillors Fiona Martin and Brian Burbidge who are hoping work will continue to improve the town's surface water drainage schemes

A leading figure in the battle to protect Horncastle from fears of flooding has welcomed the completion of new defences but has urged agencies to continue working on other schemes.

Town and district councillor Fiona Martin has been campaigning for better flood defences for more than 30 years.

The News revealed last week that an £8.4 million scheme to the north of the town, near Hemingby, is now operational.

Confirmation came from the Environment Agency (EA) and Coun Martin described the announcement as ‘extremely good news’.

The defences feature a new reservoir capable of holding up to 1.5 million cubic metres of water – the equivalent of 600 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

However, the EA admits the scheme only applies to the River Bain and offers protection to around 160 homes and business in Horncastle.

Coun Martin, speaking at last week’s Town Council meeting, said it was important work on improving Horncastle’s surface water drainage continued.

She said : “It (the new defences) are extremely good news. I’ve been working on this for 35 years. I started in 1982. It shows that perseverance does work.

“As the Agency points out, this will ease the threat of flooding but will not remove it completely.

“Work on other schemes is ongoing. I know the county council is looking at the surface water situation in the town and it is vital that continues.”

Horncastle has proved vulnerable to flooding for many years and the repair bill for householders and business owners often runs into thousands of pounds.

And while the Bain is seen as a major concern, residents have pointed out surface water is an even bigger threat – particularly with hundreds of new homes set to be built.

While the new reservoir is operational, the EA stresses work on the final stages of the defences will not be completed until Spring - weather permitting.

There have been claims that delays – caused by bad weather and historical finds – have led to a an overspend of around £1.8m.

Meanwhile, town councillor Angela Birchall said some landowners in the Hemingby area are unhappy that they have yet to receive compensation payments.

She said: “I bumped into one landowner at a motorway service station. He told me the compensation had been agreed but there is still a bit of anger they haven’t yet received 25 per cent (of the agreed figure). Can we (the town council) put pressure on and rattle a few cages?”

Coun Martin said she was ‘very wary’ of discussing financial matters in a public meeting and added: “My understanding is it is all with solicitors.”

Mayor Coun Bill Aron said he had spoken to landowners who told him they were ‘much happier’ with the situation.