Demand for answers over towns' worst flooding in 50 years

Ben Cheyne captured these images and video footage on his drone on Christmas Day after the major floods in Bungay and...

Ben Cheyne captured these images and video footage on his drone on Christmas Day after the major floods in Bungay and Ditchingham. Picture: Ben Cheyne - Credit: Ben Cheyne

Community leaders are looking for answers following the worst flooding recorded in the Beccles and Bungay area for 50 years.

Many homes were devastated in the floods that started on Christmas Eve, with some properties still uninhabitable.

Businesses were also affected, including Beccles Lido, which has been forced to close this week.

Flood damage at Beccles Lido.

Flood damage at Beccles Lido. Picture: Beccles Lido - Credit: Beccles Lido

Director Shaun Crowley said: "This disaster comes on top of a year in which our income has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic."

Flooding hit Bungay, Ditchingham, Earsham, Broome, Wainford and surrounding areas on Christmas Eve.

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The Bungay Emergency Community Support (BECS) now has an emergency line for anyone affected by flooding in the community on 0300 365 2995.

Former Bungay mayor Bob Prior.

Former Bungay mayor Bob Prior. - Credit: Bungay Town Council

Bungay town mayor Bob Prior said: "Bungay Town Council will certainly be asking the Environment Agency for their explanations and to understand why the sluice system apparently failed to prevent the flooding which was the worst seen for over 50 years.

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"We will also be asking why the district council has a policy of not supplying sandbags, of which there were a dire shortage when they were most needed. 

"Volunteers kindly collected sandbags from the Environment Agency’s depot at Haddiscoe, for which we are extremely grateful, but it is not a situation that we should have been put in.

"We will continue to re-evaluate our own responses to see if there are any ways in which we could improve the support we provided - that is simply good practice, but we will be seeking greater support from the district and county councils if there should be any future emergencies occurring in Bungay."

Green councillor for Beccles, Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw, was at the floods on Boxing Day.


Green Councillor for Beccles Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw - Credit: Suffolk County Council

She said: "A strategic rather than a reactive approach needs to be adopted by the Environment Agency and councils.

"Talking to residents, many feel alone and a human approach is often what is needed in times of crisis.

"We also have to consider the impact the climate emergency has on towns like Beccles and Bungay and which marshland areas need to be flooded out to help protect our communities."

On East Suffolk Council's website, it states sandbags are not used because they do not protect an individual property against flooding.

This is because water can get through doorways and the sandbags become contaminated with sewage. 

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency dismissed Bob Prior, Mayor of Bungay's, claims that the sluices and gates failed.

They said: “The extreme rainfall over the Christmas period led to record levels on many of Suffolk’s rivers. This unfortunately led to property flooding in a number places. Our thoughts are with those affected.

“Environment Agency staff continue to work alongside the emergency services and local partners to check and operate defences, support those who have been flooded and reduce the risk of further flooding.

“We understand the concerns people have in Bungay and would like to reassure everyone that no sluices failed or gates were left in the wrong position.

"The flooding was caused by the rapid rise of the river Waveney which was the highest we’ve seen since 1968.”

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