Update on Feniton flood alleviation scheme

Phase 3 (under-track crossing)

All is looking good for the under-track crossing to be completed in early May.

Network Rail’s contractors are booked in to carry out the rail possession over the weekend of 1–3 May, which means that no trains will run over that weekend, with a bus replacement service in place.

From approximately midnight on Friday 1 May, there will be a 48-hour non-stop period of activity and noise on the site. This will have an impact on people living nearby, but given the nature of the works, this cannot really be avoided.

Network Rail is expected to be on site from early April, but only working normal working hours going forward (including Saturdays). There will be considerable activity around the Green Lane entrance to the site and it might be wise to find an alternative route to avoid delays in car journey times.

It is anticipated that the culvert under the railway line will be installed, then once the possession is over and the track is open again as normal, Network Rail will continue to work on the manholes at either end of the crossing (but during normal work hours).

Part of the works will include changing the gate entrance to the site.

Phase 4, the remainder of the scheme

The funding for phase 4 is not currently guaranteed, so East Devon District Council will be looking for assistance from the Parish Council and local residents. We need to put as much political pressure on our MPs as possible to ensure the funding is granted.

The Government will soon announce some revised funding rules which it is hoped will make it easier for projects to claim additional monies and we need to make sure that Feniton’s scheme is at the front of the queue.

To underpin the grant application, we need to collect a reasonable number of letters from residents/parish councillors/flood wardens to demonstrate the stress, worry and anxiety caused every time it rains, as well as how much effort is put into trying to reduce flooding via the volunteer flood warden scheme.

We also need to justify the mental anguish caused by actual flooding, as well as being put at risk of flooding, as a further grant allowance is available for impacts on mental health. Many will find it difficult to write this sort of letter, but it would help the cause immeasurably if some residents are able to do this.

The flood scheme was discussed at Feniton Parish Council meeting on Monday 9 March and the parish clerk, Alison Marshall, has kindly agreed to receive lobbying emails from residents and will collate them into a batch of submissions for grant funding. Her email address is fenitonpc@gmail.com. Alternatively, letters can be dropped off at my house (Jubilee House on Ottery Road) and I will scan them and forward to Alison.

Getting grant funding for phase 4 is absolutely crucial to enable completion of the scheme. East Devon District Council’s Cabinet agreement to move forward with phase 3 demonstrates the Council’s determination to help the people of Feniton … it’s now up to us to lobby as hard as we can for the funding for phase 4.

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Give East Devon your views on the services provided by the Council by completing a questionnaire

Press release from EDDC:

‘Careful Choices’ consultation to protect services our customers care about most

Like all councils, East Devon District Council faces a difficult financial situation and going forward will need to make ‘careful choices’ as it works towards bridging a £2.7 million funding gap over the next four years.

Budgets have decreased due to cuts in central government funding and over the last decade, the council has lost 60p in every £1 of government funding.

These reductions coupled with rising demands on our services, continue to impact on everything we do.

‘Careful choices’ is about achieving a shared understanding of the services which the council has to provide even though the Government is no longer funding them.  It is also about protecting as best we can other services which people care most about. The council wants your help to make these choices, so we’re asking for your views to help inform decision making by the council.

We’d like you to take part by completing a questionnaire about our services and the consultation is available to complete on our website at www.eastdevon.gov.uk/community-engagement/careful-choices

The consultation closes at 5pm on Monday 9 March.

The questionnaire has also been sent to 3,000 randomly selected East Devon households and all the results will be used to help inform decision making about the services and how they are run. More than 600 people have already responded and we’d like to say thank you to them for taking the time to do so.

We’ve already taken significant steps to deal with the reductions in our finances; compared with 10 years ago, we’ve reduced the cost of running our quality services by a total of £4.4 million.  We’re also making progress towards bridging the funding gap by:

  • actively assessing commercial investment opportunities and ways we can create income from the assets we own;
  • generating more income through services such as green waste collections;
  • making organisational changes to ensure we are ‘fit for purpose’ to deliver the Council Plan;
  • going digital to deliver services as cost effectively as possible.

Cllr Ben Ingham, Leader of the council, said: “These are challenging times for all councils and we are committed to doing everything we can to help lessen the impact of budgetary constraints.  It is only by choosing carefully and working together that we will be able to make sure we protect the services we value most. We’re confident that together we can make these ‘careful choices’.”

If you’d prefer a printed version of the questionnaire or need a copy in any other format, please contact Jamie Buckley on 01395 517569 or e-mail jbuckley@eastdevon.gov.uk

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Full steam ahead for Phase 3 of Feniton flood alleviation project

Great news for Feniton from East Devon District Council!

Work on a new flood culvert beneath the railway will commence in May 2020

Feniton is set to see its long planned flood relief culvert (Phase 3 of the Feniton Flood Alleviation Scheme) installed under the railway line over the weekend of 2 and 3 May 2020

East Devon District Councillors gave approval for Phase 3 at a meeting of Cabinet on 5 February 2020.

Cabinet’s go-ahead follows a successful bid by the council for additional central government grant money to close the funding gap for the new culvert.

East Devon is working in partnership with Network Rail who will be delivering this crucial element of the Feniton Flood Alleviation scheme on the council’s behalf.

The Feniton Flood alleviation scheme largely consists of a new overflow culvert 900m long. This will run from the north of the village, under the railway line and into the original watercourse, which was enlarged as part of Phase 1 and 2.

Although Phase 3 (the under-track rail crossing) is the shortest in length of the project’s four phases, it has been the most challenging to deliver, due to it crossing the Exeter to London Waterloo main rail line.

The council expects the under track crossing construction site and surrounding area to become much busier in April for preparation for the crossing. This will then culminate in an intense and continuous 48 hour work period over the Saturday 2 May and Sunday 3 May weekend.

Flooding, December 2019

There will be some inconvenience to local residents over this period, for which the council apologises and asks residents for their understanding of this important step towards reducing the flood risk to the community of Feniton. The flood alleviation scheme will leave 72 homes better protected from flooding.

While preparing for the new culvert under the railway to be constructed, the project team will work on securing further central government funding to progress Phase 4, which will link up phases 1, 2 and 3, and allow Feniton to enjoy reduced flood risk.

Work on Phase 4 will commence on site in April 2021, subject to central government money being available that year.

Feniton has a long history of flooding, dating back to 1901, but has experienced numerous flooding events since New Feniton was built in the early 1970s. The existing watercourse and railway culvert have insufficient capacity to convey excess water. Consequently, water overflows the banks and runs through people’s houses. It then backs up against the railway line and floods properties to great depths.

Following extensive flooding in 2008 and 2012, the local resilience group has been working tirelessly to reduce flooding. As recently as December 2019 their quick thinking actions averted further property flooding.

Cllr Susie Bond, East Devon’s ward member for Feniton, said:

The news of Cabinet’s unanimous decision to press ahead with phase 3 of the flood scheme has been greeted with resounding cheers in the village. There is light at the end of the tunnel for flooding misery in Feniton, although there is still a long way to go to complete the works. The tenacity and hard work of the council officers on this project, has been one of the key factors in pushing the scheme forward.”

Cllr Geoff Jung, East Devon’s portfolio holder for the environment, said:

“I am so pleased that East Devon’s Cabinet agreed to support this scheme for the next two phases, which will finally provide the protection from surface water flooding.

“Because of the number of houses at risk, the Feniton scheme is our number one priority, with the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan a close second.

“This Scheme will protect 72 houses from flooding that has been a constant threat to Feniton residents for many years.

“As part of our commitment to tackling the effects of climate change, East Devon is working hard to meet the challenges posed by flooding throughout the district, including the Exmouth Tidal Defence Scheme and the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan project.”

Further information about the Feniton flood alleviation scheme can be found on the East Devon website: https://eastdevon.gov.uk/flooding/flood-alleviation-schemes/feniton-flood-alleviation-scheme/

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