Feniton flood scheme falls foul of Covid-19

It will come as no surprise, but still the news will be hard to hear.

Very sadly, Feniton flood scheme will not be going ahead at the beginning of May. See press release below from East Devon District Council which explains the background to the decision:

Feniton undertrack rail crossing temporarily on hold due to Coronavirus health risk

East Devon District Council has made the tough but correct decision to postpone the Feniton undertrack rail crossing (Phase 3), which was due to be completed in early May 2020.

Given the current and forecast Corona Virus situation, the council has taken the proactive step to postpone non-essential construction work to reduce health risks to workers, local healthcare staff, and local residents.

East Devon appreciates all the hard work that the Network Rail team has put in to reach the current stage of the project, and looks forward to working with them to make sure everything is in place for the next possession window.

Although clearly a delay for phase 3, the fourth and final phase was not due to begin until March 2021, so the overall delay to the scheme completion is minimal.

The council’s project team will be working hard to ensure that both phase 3 and 4 can be delivered as soon as practically possible

Commenting on the delay, Cllr Geoff Jung, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for the environment, said:

“I totally understand that we have to make this decision to delay phase 3 of the Feniton scheme, during the Covid 19 Emergency.

“I would stress that this is a temporary delay and that we are totally committed to completing the Feniton Flood scheme as well all the other flood and sea defence schemes that we have currently in hand.

Cllr Ben Ingham, the Leader of East Devon District Council, said:

“It is a tremendous shame that we have to postpone this vital project for Feniton, especially in light of the hard work to get us this far. However, we cannot take high risks so there must be a delay. But we will be back.”

Cllr Peter Faithfull, Deputy Portfolio Holder for the Environment, said:

“While it is extremely frustrating to have to make the decision to delay this work, the risk of flooding has to be placed second to the risk of Covid-19 for both the workers and the residents.”

Feniton ward member, Cllr Susie Bond, said:

“This is hugely disappointing, but not unexpected, news given the national emergency in which we find ourselves. We shall look forward to hearing more positive news once the crisis is over and we can work with Network Rail in finding a new possession window.”

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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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