An exercise to test a town's new emergency flood plan has identified flood wardens as the key to its success.

Authorities in Lewes are warning volunteers are urgently needed to take up the positions so parts of the town are not left without cover.

Representatives from a range of public and voluntary agencies met to discuss flood warning systems, including an automatic voice messaging system (AVM), loudspeakers and a flood warden network.

The network will be a community-based self-help scheme which aims to warn people who are at risk from flooding and provide a link between the public, emergency bodies and local authorities.

Wardens will make regular contact with residents, encourage use of AVM, develop a directory of useful contacts and ensure the circulation of flood warnings.

Ian Loughborough, East Sussex County Council's emergency planning officer, said: "An effective response to any threat of flooding requires local authorities and the emergency services to work side by side with the community.

"Both have a key role to play."

Paul Rideout, of the South Downs Council for Voluntary Service, will be the Flood Co-ordinator. He said: "We need volunteers to act as flood wardens.

"If you don't have a volunteer for your area, your area won't be covered, it's as simple as that. Please come forward if you are interested."

For details, call the county council's emergency planning division on 01273 481182.