FloodingCoping with the effects of flooding is difficult in any event and having your own home flooded can be devastating. Unfortunately, this is the experience which many of my constituents have had to go through following the recent heavy rains. And, for some, this is not the first time it has happened.

Over the weekend I visited residents in Weoley and Frankley who have been affected by the floods. Various agencies – including the electricity board, Fire Service and City Council officers – had been on the scene. There was, however, some concern among residents about the level of communication they had received from the Council. I talked with the Council’s emergency planning team on Saturday night and I was very pleased that they responded by producing advice leaflets for residents and visiting the affected areas on Sunday morning to answer peoples’ queries and arrange emergency assistance where needed.

I was particularly impressed with the way residents responded so quickly and effectively on the day of the floods. The residents of the Bushwood Road in Weoley, for example, not only provided emergency assistance to help neighbours out of their homes but also took practical action to alleviate the extent of the flood by digging a temporary drainage ditch to divert flood water away from homes.

There may be lessons from this which the City Council and others can take on board. I think that local residents can play an important role in making that happen. In other parts of the Northfield constituency which have experienced severe flooding in the past, I have helped residents to form flood action groups. These groups have strengthened their voice in dealing with the Council and other agencies and helped make sure people get the practical information they need. They have also helped bring neighbours together to help each other with any further flood incidents that may occur. If you would be interested in getting such a group going in your area then please do get in touch.

The intensity of rainfall experienced the other weekend was obviously exceptional but unfortunately with the climate changes that we are now experiencing, the signs are that such exceptional events are now happening more frequently than they used to. This means that the volume which drains were originally designed to deal with when they were built – sometimes many decades ago – may not always be appropriate to the new situation we all face. All the agencies involved – like the Council – need to be much more thorough in ensuring that they are checked and cleared out regularly. It also means that drainage issues need to feature much more prominently when considering new developments.

Locally, I am asking Birmingham City Council to investigate why the flooding was again so severe in this area this time and what actions are to be taken to improve things for the future. There are not necessarily easy answers in all cases but my own conversations with residents over the weekend suggest that there are a number of drainage and flood protection issues which can and should be tackled urgently.

At national level, the Government is acting on a Report that came out over the summer which contained a large number of recommendations about how things can be improved.

Recent Posts

Richard Burden

Avatar photo

I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Get in touch

You can reach me by email at richard@richardburden.com or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.