Flood despair is a factor in launch of new national campaigning party

THE plight of Darfield flood victims has part fuelled the forming of a new political outfit... the National Flood Prevention Party.

Operating from the Jubilee River website that highlights ongoing flooding issues, the party was founded by southern campaigner Ewan Larcombe, after he noted action – or lack of it – over flooding across the country.

Darfield River Dearne warden John Bannister said Mr Larcombe was stunned that £325,000 was spent on a fish ladder, instead of on remedial work in an area where stricken residents say they desperately need a flood wall and dredging work.

It is almost the fourth anniversary of the June 2007 floods that hit Barnsley hard, and Darfield householders are still trying to recover.

Mr Bannister said: “Uninformed people believe work has been done to prevent future flooding.

“They are amazed to find out that money has been spent on repairing the banks of the river, upstream of Darfield Bridge, and a few small repairs to the defences, but no money has been spent on new defences.

“It is reasonable to say that in the same adverse weather conditions the same flooding will occur in Darfield Bridge, because nothing has been altered. Reducing the probability of flooding is one of the reasons that the new NFPP has been created.”

His neighbours on Church View have constant reminders of the floods; last year five homes had to be vacated for heavy (second time around) remedial work on floors and walls, that took up to five months to rectify. Others are still locked in battles with insurance companies over liability and claims.

Residents suffered from over 5ft of water in their homes, and through the new NFPP website have found they are one of many groups to have been refused river dredging.

Further down the valley, flood victims of the River Dove did benefit from some dredging work.

But funding promised towards a new flood barrier fell through at the last Government allocations, despite the fact that a new school is under construction in the area.

“Insurance companies refuse to take new clients at flood risk and ask for proof that improved flood prevention measures have been taken by the authorities”, said Mr Bannister.

He added: “In February, an Environment Agency spokesperson told me they have decided to dredge small areas in special cases.

“An area within Darfield Bridge would be dredged if there was money left over from proposed works, and if a grant could be obtained from Barnsley Council, she said.

“This is a shift from their policy of no dredging of rivers not used by boats. At the same meeting the EA said that they will seek a grant from English Nature to create a large water storage area at Houghton.

“The site would be used at times of high water levels for alleviation of flooding at Darfield Bridge.

“We are waiting to see what happens.”