Conservative Mayor blamed for poor flooding communication

11 Jan 2024

The Mayor has been slammed by councillors for poor communication during the recent heavy rains and flooding across Bedford Borough. The Mayor had passed on vital information on road closures and prevention actions to fellow Conservative cabinet members but failed to inform other members of the Council until three days later when the heaviest rain had subsided.

In addition to the poor communication, councillors were also disappointed to see that none of the electronic flood signs installed by the Borough and used for the heavy floods in December 2020 were not in use during the recent flooding.

Councillor Jon Abbott, who represents Clapham & Oakley Ward where high levels of flooding occurred, said “I would like to praise the hard work of officers during the recent flooding that occurred right across Bedford Borough, for the support that they gave to local residents and businesses. Particularly the Highways team for coming and emptying the blocked drain under the Lovell Road Railway bridge between Oakley & Clapham.

“I also know Cllr Leigh Coombs was closely involved with supporting his residents during recent flooding when water supply was cut off (including arranging for  basic facilities to be made available free of charge at our leisure centres), and I would like to thank Joanna Szaub-Newton and Cllr Vann who came out to look at some of the flooding in Clapham and Oakley just a few days ago.

“But I am left wondering why Executive Members were privy to updates on flooding from the evening of Tuesday 2nd January including the latest flood alerts, but the first update to other elected members didn’t arrive until the afternoon of Friday 5th January when the Borough had already been inundated with water for 3 days?”

“During the flooding that occurred at Christmas 2020 all members were briefed and kept informed of what was happening across the Borough. Did the Mayor not feel this information should have been shared with members prior to Friday?”