Agenda item

To receive the report of the Chief Executive, which provides an overview of the Council’s response to Storm Dennis and sets out a series of recommendations for Cabinet’s consideration that enhance the Council’s short term and long term response to extreme weather events and which limit the impact of flooding on those communities most at risk.

Minutes:

The Chief Executive provided Members with a detailed overview of the Council’s response to Storm Dennis, one of four major storms to hit Wales at the start of 2020 which resulted in 1,070 households being flooded within RCT.  Within his overview, the Chief Executive further provided a series of recommendations for Cabinet’s consideration that would enhance the Council’s short term and long term response to extreme weather events and which limit the impact of flooding on those communities most at risk.

 

The Chief Executive commented upon the extreme weather event of Storm Dennis that happened after a series of other events.  He also referenced the topography of the County Borough which was also a factor to the events that unfolded and the devasting impact the storm had on local communities across the County Borough.  The Chief Executive spoke of households and businesses that were flooded, the significant landslide at Tylorstown and the storm damage caused to highways infrastructure assets, drainage systems, and Council buildings such as the National Lido for Wales.

 

Members were provided with an overview of the work undertaken by the Council in preparation for the Storm, the work undertaken during and the immediate aftermath. 

 

The Leader thanked the Chief Executive for his detailed report and also thanked Members for their submissions contained with Appendix 3 of the report, advising that two late submissions had also been received since publication of the report and had been circulated to Cabinet Members for information.  The Leader also thanked the work and comments provided the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to date and the emerging themes identified. 

The Leader commented on the recommendations contained within the report which would require significant funding and also spoke of the cost of damages to date exceeding £80million.  Members were advised of the level of investment and number of projects already taken forward by the Council, the mapping exercises already underway and individual surveys needing to be taken forward to ensure things are done correctly and that infrastructures, such as culverts are still fit for purpose.  The Leader advised of discussions taken forward with National Resources Wales and the preventive measures that need to be strengthened commenting on an ‘Emergency control room’ which would monitor flood devices and be equipped with an independent telephone line and the added intelligence this would provide if such a situation arose again.  The Leader commented on the need to make properties more resilient and added that the robustness of the Council systems in place had further improved following the event and he thanked all the staff and the communities that had contributed to the efforts, before, during and after Storm Dennis.  The Leader concluded his remarks by requesting that a further report on the Council’s position in respect of Storm Dennis be provided to Cabinet or Council in the New Year.

 

The Deputy Leader spoke of the exceptional response witnessed before, during and after the event and advised that due to the excellent flood alleviation scheme already in place within her ward the impact on residents was minimised although added that flooding could not be mitigated against entirely, as unfortunately a small number of residents still did experience flooding within their properties.  She further commented on the community resilience and working together noting the importance of the ‘voices of the communities’ ensuring good communication links with the residents of the County Borough and Elected Members. In respect of Elected Members, reference was made to the importance of the Members portal once fully developed and the opportunity to feed into the Members induction training following the 2022 elections.  The Deputy Leader spoke of the invaluable work of scrutiny which had fed into the report before the Cabinet and the importance of the ongoing work in this area by scrutiny.  The Deputy Leader conclude her comments by adding that although the Council could never eliminate flooding or control nature the Council would continue to do all that was possible to minimise the risk.

 

The Cabinet Member for Corporate Services welcomed the report before them, adding that the report, combined with close working with NRW and the outcomes of the S19 report would provide the Council with sufficient information to act upon.  He continued by commenting on the need to mitigate against any future issues that could potentially arise from climate change.  The Member spoke positively of the investments and projects already being delivered upon by the Council and the lobbying taken forward to the Westminster government for further flood prevention schemes funding.

 

The Cabinet Member for Enterprise Development and Housing commented upon the landslide that occurred in Tylorstown, on an area much widely used by the public.  The Member thanked the officers for the responsive action taken and the ongoing work to ensure the area is safe.  The Cabinet Member commented on the regular monitoring undertaken of all existing coal tips and the importance of funding needed from central government to remove coal tips and alleviate peoples concerns of any future disasters. 

 

The Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure & Heritage paid tribute to the staff that worked effortlessly during the events of storm Dennis and the community resilience witnessed, with the offers of help from all.  The Cabinet Member spoke of the importance of open communication lines and the reference within the report to the emergency control room which she felt would enhance communication, and utilising the communications teams to provide real time information she felt would be invaluable.

 

The Cabinet Member for Adult Services & the Welsh Language spoke of the importance of robust systems in place for warning the public and commented on the shortcoming identified within the report.  The Cabinet Member highlighted the importance for all agencies to work together, to provide sufficient where water rises quickly.  The Leader provide Members with details of monitoring within the new control room, the alarm systems in place for blocked culverts and the cctv operations to be taken forward of monitoring rivers at key areas so that if NRW’s alert system was to fail the Council could utilise the provisions it has in place to raise awareness.

 

The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services commented on the ongoing discussions between the Council and NRW to try to prevent such events occurring again and spoke of the need for other agencies to be involved in such discussions commenting upon the flooding within her own ward and the role played by Dwyr Cymru, Newtork Rail and Transport for Wales.  The Cabinet Member paid tribute to the volunteers that assisted in Trehafod Community Centre ensuring the wellbeing of the village.

 

The Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being & Cultural Services also thanked the staff and local communities for coming together in peoples time of need and providing a strengthened community spirit during difficult times.  The Member welcomed the report and the work solutions provided within and spoke of the importance of not only looking at flood defence infrastructures but also as part of the flood strategy going forward the climate change agenda, commenting on water segregation, tree planting, water catchment reviews and peat bogs.    

 

The Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services commented on the unprecedented nature of the weather events that occurred at the start of the year and welcomed the recommendations identified within the report which aligned with the comments provided by scrutiny, adding that she felt this was a fair and balanced reflection of the Council’s response to the storm.

 

At this juncture in the meeting, the Leader called upon County Borough Councillor M Adams in his role as Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee who provided Cabinet with an overview of the work of scrutiny.

 

With the permission of the Leader, County Borough Councillor J Brencher also addressed the Cabinet.

 

The deputy Leader took the opportunity to query whether any funding was to be provided by NRW for the flood measures needed, commenting in particular on the flooding that occurred in lower Treforest.  The Leader advised that lots of conversations were still taking place with NRW and spoke of the lines of responsibility between the Council and NRW. 

 

The Leader summed up the discussions of the Cabinet, commenting that the costings associated with the proposed recommendations would be factored into the budget strategy.  He spoke of the importance of a further report being provided to Cabinet or Council in the New Year once the capital programme had been agreed.  He concluded by further commenting on the role of scrutiny and the further work that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee could undertaken in respect of scrutinising the implementation of the recommendations outlined within the report.

 

Following detailed discussions it was RESOLVED:

 

 

 

 

      I.         To note the action taken by the Council in respect of Storm Dennis:

a)    Before the Storm;

b)    During the Storm;

c)     Immediately after the Storm;

d)    In the days and weeks following the Storm;

e)    The longer-term response to repairing and replacing damaged infrastructure and preventing future flooding events.

 

     II.         To note the feedback from the work to date of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee in respect of its review of the events of Storm Dennis and the multi-agency response as set out in Appendix C of this report.

 

   III.         To note and approve the recommendations for improvement set out in Section 11 of this report.

 

   IV.         That progress against the recommendations for improvement are included in the Financial and Performance Management Reports, presented to Cabinet each quarter and to the relevant Scrutiny Committee.

 

    V.         That a further report which sets out the findings of the Section 19 Investigation Reports of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 currently being undertaken are presented to a future Cabinet in the New Year and that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee scrutinise the section 19 report once published and scrutinise the ongoing work that the Council is undertaking in respect of its recommendations contained within this report.

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