Two new flood and pollution groups in the Lambourn Valley, March 2024

You can tell a lot about how well a public monopoly, and its regulator, are doing by how many pressure groups there are. In the Lambourn valley alone there are currently several, all scrutinising the underwhelming performance of Thames Water. This tells its own sorry story.

The purpose of this is not to describe all of these (though that might also be useful) but to mention two very recent additions. Both are trying to accomplish the same things but in different ways and over different (but overlapping) areas and involving different (but overlapping) groups of people. It’s expected that their work will be co-ordinated with each other and also with other groups in the area. They should  therefore be seen as distinct but related.

Sewage Action Group for the Lambourn Upper Valley (SAGLUV)

The following statement from Martyn Wright of the East Gaston Flood and Pollution Forum describes the ambitions and scope of this group:

“It’s well known that there are significant problems with sewage throughout the Lambourn Valley. The villages of Great Shefford, East Garston, Eastbury, Lambourn and Upper Lambourn, (for ease of description, the Lambourn Upper Valley) all suffer from sewer flooding by groundwater infiltration and all are in the catchment of the East Shefford Sewage Treatment Works. Thames Water treats this catchment as a discreet area with its own Groundwater Management Plan.

“Many people, for many years, have been trying to tackle Thames Water in an attempt to bring about some improvement. The Lambourn Valley Flood Forum has been making strong representation:however, as the name suggests, the LVFF’s main focus has been on flooding issues. It is now felt that a more concentrated and co-ordinated effort is needed to resolve sewage problems in our specific part of the Valley that ties in with TW’s East Shefford STW Management Plan.

“The Chairs of the Parish Councils of Great Shefford, East Garston, and Eastbury, Lambourn and Upper Lambourn, have come together to form SAGLUV, the Sewage Action Group for the Lambourn Upper Valley. Our prime objective is to secure clear sewers and a clean river; and our prime target is Thames Water.

“Martyn Wright of the EGFPF has agreed to chair SAGLUV which will also be supported by the area’s District Councillors, Clive Hooker and Howard Wollaston. We will be inviting a small number of committed individuals, with specific knowledge and experience from each parish, to join the group to gather evidence of sewage problems, in order to present the strongest possible case to TW, the Environment Agency and other relevant organisations.

“There are no quick fixes and we have to be realistic in what we can, and cannot, achieve with TW in such a precarious financial state, however, we are determined to try! We will keep you updated, and seek your feedback, as the campaign develops.”

• For more information on this (and the EGFPF), please contact martynwright345@btinternet.com.
See also this separate post which provides updates on SAGLUV’s work.

Cross-party and Lambourn-wide Fact-finding Group

In his latest ward update, Lambourn ward member Howard Woollaston described the ambitions and scope of this group:

“I have agreed with the Liberal Democrat Councillors representing the lower reaches of the Lambourn, and with Clive Hooker who represents Ridgeway ward, that we will all collaborate through a cross-party group to lobby Thames Water, The Environment Agency, West Berkshire Council and central government to find a long-term solution to the flood and sewage issues in the valley.

“We intend to compile a dossier with photographs and detailed information clearly showing the seriousness of the situation. Martyn is compiling a template and flood wardens in our part of the valley along with Speen and the last part of the Lambourn where it runs into the Kennet will all contribute. These are the areas most impacted by flooding and sewage issues. Clay Hill, for example, has identical sewage and flooding issues north of the A4 and including Newbury Business Park. The dossier will have a covering letter signed by all District Councillors and Parish Chairs and be sent to all the bodies mentioned above as well as national and local media.

“As I have said before, there is no quick fix to this problem. I am convinced that climate change is having an impact. Hopefully this co-ordinated approach will get some results.”

• For more information on this, please contact howard.woollaston1@westberks.gov.uk.

Communication

I have invited both groups to supply brief monthly updates which will include information about any action they request people take (such as attending meetings or writing to any of the above-mentioned organisations). These will be given wide publicity in Penny Post.

The photograph at the top (taken by James Potter) shows the Eastbury Flood Defence Scheme as it was a few days after Storm Henk in early January. This has worked exactly as intended. The trick is now to get the rest of the infrastructure in the valley up to this standard.

 

 

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