‘Tears and heartbreak’: Call for compensation for Welsh village’s flooding victims
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
A councillor wants to have a public meeting organised so that flooding victims can discuss compensation claims with a council.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Community Services scrutiny committee on Monday (October 4) councillors discussed the findings of a flood investigation report into an incident in Llanhilleth on February 15 and 16, 2020.
During Storm Dennis, a total of 86 homes were affected by surface water flooding at Railway street and Meadow street in Llanhilleth.
The report, which is a legal requirement, explained that the flooding had been caused by a combination of high-intensity rainfall over a prolonged period of time, saturated ground from one of the wettest winters on record, and blockages in the storm drainage infrastructure.
The report said that “despite record-breaking high river levels” there was no river flooding and that an existing flood protection wall had protected the area.
Cllr Lee Parsons said: “The report is very comprehensive but what it doesn’t show is the tears and heartbreak that I saw that morning of the residents affected by this flood.
“There’s no human element to the report, these people now need to be compensated.
“The report shows that this is the council’s fault, I don’t know how you can compensate somebody who’s not been able to live in their house for 10 months.
“I don’t know how you can compensate somebody who left their house after the flooding. had to go and live in a care home, became ill there of covid, and died.
“We now need to make the process of compensation as easy as possible.”
The council’s natural environment team leader, Wayne Jervis said: “I appreciate the report doesn’t show the human side or the suffering they experienced.
“The purpose of the report is to identify the cause and anyone responsible.
“I think the report does that, it can appear cold, but it was designed to find out what happened and how it can be prevented in the future.”
Cllr Parsons added: “For 19 months I’ve had residents asking me who’s to blame – now we know.”
One of the recommendations in front of the committee was to accept the report findings and allow it to be published, which is a legal requirement under the Flood Water Management Act.
Cllr Parsons put forward an amendment to the recommendation that the council also; “puts a scheme forward to compensate those affected by the floods.”
Committee chairman, Cllr Mandy Moore asked officers for advice on whether the amendment could stand.
Cllr Moore was advised that the committee should only vote on the report in front ofo them and that agreeinging a compensation scheme was beyond their remit.
“I don’t think it’s for this committee, ” said Cllr Moore.
Cllr Parsons added: “I’ll go to the Executive member and ask for a public meeting.”
Director of environment and economy Richard Crook: “I can fully understand why Cllr Parsons wants to raise this, but it’s a factual report about the event itself.
“If Cllr Parsons wants to follow a course of actions we’ll look at a different route to express those views.”
The committee agreed that the report can be published, and it will also be discussed by councillors on the Executive committee in November.
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