Building strong, resilient communities for the future

Water flooding into your home is always unpleasant. Filthy sewer water flooding into your home is especially upsetting.

For residents of Albert Road in Deal, it is something that has occurred several times over the last seven years. That is totally unacceptable. That’s why I have raised the issue in Parliament, calling for the need for the reform of water management and improved water regulation.

On the situation in Deal, I am working with residents involved to seek answers and assurances once and for all that it won’t happen again. Criticisms have been made of both Southern Water and the regulator Ofwat for the continuing problems. Particularly given previous assurances and investigations made. Campaigning over the years by residents, my predecessor MP and local Councillors, including Deal Cllr Trevor Bond, has seen investment in a new pumping station and outfalls. Yet at the end of August, sewage flooding returned. Since then, further heavy rainfall events have been predicted and Southern Water has issued further warnings specifically for Albert Road. Residents point to this as evidence that Southern Water lack confidence in their own waterways systems to manage rainy days.

This time Southern Water blamed blocked drains on the highway. I am asking Kent County Council – the highways authority – about their position on this point. I have also asked them to carry out a full flood investigation, to which they have agreed.

The difficulties at getting to the bottom of the reasons for the flooding and ensuring that responsibility is taken for a lasting solution demonstrates exactly why the current system is in need of modernising and reform. We are not the only area to suffer from filthy flooding and stinky sewage. It is something that communities are facing across the country and this needs to change – rapidly.

Poor water management also has broader implications across Dover & Deal. I am engaged in detailed discussions with the planning department of Dover District Council about water capacity and flood management for our area, with a view to further detailed discussions with Southern Water’s leadership team. It is important to ensure we explore the extent to which foul water capacity has been expanded in recent decades to reflect the growth across the wider area.

And, of course, it is especially important with more growth planned. The Government’s housing delivery targets look set to raise expectations for housing delivery numbers in our area. Water capacity and availability can result in housing delivery being delayed and it adds to the pressure to deliver homes elsewhere across the district. I have been working with fellow Kent MPs on this and raising some concerns directly with the housing Ministerial team.

It is vital that we build the right amount of homes in the right places. But they need to have the right infrastructure in place too – so we have strong, resilient communities in the years ahead.

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