Com­ment ‘An in­sult to my in­tel­li­gence’

Run­nymede: Res­i­dents fu­ri­ous at county coun­cil­lor’s on-air claim that God was re­spon­si­ble for this year’s flood dev­as­ta­tion

Surrey Herald/News - - FRONT PAGE - by Rus­sell Butt rus­sell.butt@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A SUR­REY county coun­cil­lor has come un­der fire for sug­gest­ing that God caused the floods ear­lier this year. The flood­ing in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary caused dev­as­ta­tion to the Her­ald re­gion, leav­ing many fam­i­lies home­less and some fac­ing this Christ­mas still not back in their own homes. The coun­cil­lor re­spon­si­ble for con­trol of flood­ing, John Furey, an­gered af­fected res­i­dents this week when he sug­gested ‘the guy up there’ had been re­spon­si­ble for the floods in a BBC News re­port into those who are still home­less, which aired on Mon­day evening.

In the re­port, Cllr Furey, from Ad­dle­stone, said: “The flood­ing is some­thing I wasn’t in con­trol of. “It hap­pened by the guy up there. He de­liv­ered it.” He said it had been the long­est pe­riod that the area had flooded since the 1947 del­uge, which lasted for two weeks, as op­posed to the three months of con­tin­ual rain ex­pe­ri­enced ear­lier this year. Elaine Mor­ris, of Aye­bridges Av­enue, Thorpe Lea, was among those whose prop­erty was flooded and while it was just her gar­den that suf­fered, some of her neigh­bours have still not re­turned home. She said she was out­raged by Cllr Furey’s com­ments and that he had ‘no con­cept’ of why her road flooded, which many be­lieved was due to blocked cul­verts in Thorpe flood­ing the Mead Lake Ditch, which runs be­hind her home. “His com­ments, that ‘God’ caused the floods, are an in­sult to my in­tel­li­gence.” Tracy Tay­lor’s home of more than 40 years in East­worth Road, Chert­sey, was flooded when the River Bourne burst its banks. She has been liv­ing in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion in Houn­slow since then but is due to be re­housed in a new prop­erty in Ad­dle­stone, al­lo­cated by Run­nymede Bor­ough Coun­cil, be­fore Christ­mas.

Sev­eral of the coun­cil’s prop­er­ties were deemed too ex­pen­sive to re­pair. She said: “John Furey needs a huge re­al­ity check if he thinks God is to blame. “What needs do­ing is lots of dredg­ing, clean­ing rivers, widen­ing and deep­en­ing them where pos­si­ble. “All the top coun­cil­lors need to start lis­ten­ing to the nor­mal peo­ple as we seem to have a bet­ter clue than them. “I do, how­ever, feel sorry for peo­ple still in East­worth Road and other places, be­cause it will all flood again and again.” For­mer East­worth Road res­i­dent Alan Crom­bie said: “Yes, it might be the man up­stairs but at the end of the day, it’s the coun­cil wa­ter board who is re­spon- sible for not main­tain­ing the wa­ter­ways.

“If they all did their jobs, to look after their vot­ers and clean the drains and the rivers, then maybe some of the peo­ple wouldn’t have been af­fected.” The gov­ern­ment an­nounced ear­lier this month that a fur­ther £60 mil­lion would be in­vested in the Lower Thames scheme, a flood pro­tec­tion pro­gramme that is de­signed to help pro­tect around 15,000 homes be­tween Datchet in Berk­shire and Ted­ding­ton in south west London. The scheme forms part of the gov­ern­ment’s Na­tional In­fra­struc­ture Plan, in­volv­ing £2.3 bil­lion of flood de­fences, of which the Thames Val­ley area will re­ceive almost £300m in long-term in­vest­ment to pro­tect around 25,000 homes. Sur­rey County Coun­cil failed to com­ment as the Her­ald went to press.

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