Sefton flood management consultation extended as public meeting

Bill Esterson and Kevin Moores with the flood campaign group

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has welcomed news that a consultation into the future of flood management in the borough has been extended.
The MP was made aware about the proposed changes to flood managements just last month when the Environment Agency announced its plans to scale back pumping in the Lower Alt and Crossens catchment.
But some residents feared the plans will threaten homes through Formby, Hightown, Crosby, Thornton, Lydiate, Maghull, Aintree Village, Melling and parts of West Lancs.
Following a meeting with the Environment Agency this week, Bill Esterson has arranged a public meeting in Formby this Friday.
Bill said: "I had a very productive meeting with the Environment Agency to discuss people's concerns.
"They recognise that the consultation document is somewhat misleading and has sparked concern amongst residents and businesses in the borough. They also accepted that the consultation was rushed and that there was insufficient notice given for the drop in sessions which were arranged.
"So the Environment Agency have not only agreed to extend the consultation period, but also attend a meeting at Redgate Primary School on Friday (December 2) starting at 7pm in which they will explain their plans. 
"It was clear from the initial meeting I had with residents and businesses who formed a campaign group to ensure that flood management was maintained in Sefton, that there is a lot of concern about the consultation document itself.
"Residents want to ensure that homes and businesses in Sefton are not put at any greater risk from flooding because of any changes being introduced by the Environment Agency."
The Environment Agency said the consultation was at the very "early stages".
In its letter to Bill Esterson MP, The Environment Agency said: "This issue has clearly raised strong feelings amongst the local community and we take this very seriously.  We understand this is an important issue and we want to make sure people have time to have their say.  In recognition of this we are extending the current stage of the consultation from 16 December 2011 to 31 January 2012.  After this time, we will carefully consider all the responses and feedback we’ve received and review how we engage better in the future. 
"We would like to reiterate that we are at the early stages in seeking views about how the drainage of the land is managed in the long term.  No decisions have been made and local people and businesses can continue to have their say and put forward their own ideas until 31 March 2013.  Any future changes would take effect from 31 March 2015.  We would also like to reassure you that as part of this strategy, we will continue to look at how we manage flood risk to people’s homes within the catchment.
"We will continue to be available to the local community by holding ‘drop-in’ sessions, workshops and one-to-one meetings.  We want as many interested parties involved as possible to help us all shape the direction of how the land is managed in the future."
Bill said he was pleased the Environment Agency was reacting to the concerns of residents.
Bill said: "The Environment Agency are clearly listening to what people have to say and are taking on board the fears people in Sefton have with regard to changes to flood management in our community.
"They have agreed to attend the public meeting on Friday and will answer people's questions on this issue, which I welcome.
"If there are to be changes to flood management in Sefton, then the people in Sefton need to know about it and need to be involved in the changes.
"That's what Friday's meeting is for and I would encourage as many people as possible to come along."
The meeting is being held on Friday (December 2) at 7pm at Redgate Primary School.

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