Conservatives work to reduce Council Tax for flood victims

Eltham Councillor, Cllr Spencer Drury has been asking a range of questions about how Greenwich Council might be able to help the residents of Westhorne Avenue after the river Quaggy  flooded their houses last month. 


Spencer put forward a number of solutions including Council Tax Relief on empty homes and finding proof that the flood was Environment Agency incompetence.  It has been suggested the grate that stopped the water overflowing was not maintained properly, allowing the water to flood over 30 homes on the road just before Christmas, causing great distress to all residents, with some having to temporarily leave their homes. 


Spencer has now got confirmation from Council Officers that they have a discretionary power to offer Council Tax relief where residents have had to leave their homes temporarily due to flooding ( under Section 13a of the Local Government Finance Act 1992)  A written application must be made for the relief but the Chief Executive promised to send residents a letter explaining the process. 


Cllr Drury asked for a formal letter from the council so residents could prove to insurance companies that the flood was not the result of nature but man-made.  Spencer is now calling for an independent report to be commissioned to ensure that the evidence is there that the flood was caused by incompetence and that a proper plan is laid down so that the Council and Environment Agency can work together to make certain this does not happen again. 


Spencer said “This was an awful thing to happen to the residents who were understandably upset and  I want to make sure that there is clear action from the council to help ensure this doesn’t happen again and that there are no  long lasting insurance issues for the residents.   To help ensure that the Council does indeed grant this discretionary Council Tax relief to any residents who are eligible, I am also proposing a motion to Council making this the formal policy.  Since the flooding happened,  the Labour Party has made it quite clear that they are very unhappy that any Conservative councillors are involved, but I just hope that they can put politics to one side and accept this is about the residents; is a non-political issue and therefore vote for the motion.”


Spencer was also interested to find out just how much contact there was between the Council and the Environment Agency prior to the floods.  On this particular matter, Council Officers have written to Spencer in the following terms:


“Unfortunately records of meeting prior to October 2012 are not available at this time but I can advise that Royal Borough officers attended meetings on 22nd October 2012, 12thFebruary 2012, 11th June 2013, 9th October 2013 and 6th December 2013.


At the most recent meeting between officers and the Environment Agency (on the 6th December 2013) general flood risk management issues were discussed including those in relation to Sutcliffe Park and the River Quaggy. However, there was no discussion in relation to flood risk upstream of Sutcliffe Park. There has been no written correspondence with the EA specifically  in relation to flood risk and related issue on the River Quaggy.”


Spencer Drury will continue to ask questions and is welcoming any further suggestions on how Eltham Conservatives might be able to help