Flood-hit Sussex folk are welcoming a multi-million pound drive to stop a repeat of last year’s disastrous floods.

People in the Bognor area said a £8.25 million scheme to improve drainage and ditches is much-needed as some of them return home for the first time since June.

West Sussex County Council announced the emergency cash is being made available yesterday (January 10), following a report on the floods released in December.

Drainage systems were overwhelmed in June when the area between Bognor and Chicester received five times as much rain as usual.

In total 780 properties were affected in a once-every-200-year storm.

The council’s report said drainage was to blame, and Southern Water’s treatment works in Worthing may also have caused further flooding.

It recommended that a register be drawn up of exactly who is responsible for maintaining drains and ditches around the county.

Cut off

Southern Water, the Environment Agency and private landowners are being involved in the work.

The Cabin pub in Elmer Road, Elmer, near Bognor, was used as a base by rescue workers in June.

Landlord David Brackpool said: “We were cut off for about four days down here.

“I believe most people are back in their homes, but only just.

“Water just wasn’t running away. I believe they have cleared all the drains and the sewer out and since then we haven’t had a problem.

“There is every chance if that had been done before, it wouldn’t have happened.”

'Big issue'

David Allsop, clerk of Middleton Parish Council, which includes Elmer, said Yapton Road was closed again after it flooded before Christmas.

He said: “They certainly have got big issues in terms of flooding in Middleton, Elmer and Bognor.

“There have been ditches nobody has been maintaining properly and they are not checked on, so when the rains come there was no scope for the water to get away.

“This project sounds like it would be very helpful.”

The council is drawing up a hit list of areas which have been repeatedly hit and which need the most urgent help. The cost of the scheme – dubbed Operation Watershed – is coming from reserves set aside for emergencies.

Council leader Louise Goldsmith said: “We have always stressed that we also need reserves to fulfil our obligations to residents during emergency situations. I am sure everyone will agree that the impact of the weather we experienced last year is just such an emergency.”

For more information visit www.westsussex.gov.uk.

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