Council chief defends West Norfolk flood protection payment plan

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A scheme through which communities will have to pay much or all of the cost of future flood defences puts power in the hands of local people, a senior councillor has claimed.

West Norfolk Council deputy leader Brian Long suggested that areas which did not make a financial contribution towards future protection may not be protected in a BBC radio documentary last week.

And his comments were criticised by Labour councillor Ian Gourlay during a West Norfolk Council cabinet scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday.

Mr Gourlay said: “He was saying ‘Let Snettisham flood’, basically.”

But Mr Long insisted his remarks had been based on a “hypothetical” question of what could happen if there was a reluctance to contribute.

He added that business leaders and landowners had already agreed to set up a community interest company to fund future works, because they recognised its importance.

Mr Long said: “What we, hopefully, have come up with is a solution that allows people to control their own destiny.”

Concerns have also been raised that support for community flooding may wane in the longer term if the area does not face further flood emergencies similar to last December’s tidal surge.

But Mr Long suggested residents and traders should view it in a similar way to an insurance policy.

He said: “You pay for it year after year and hope you don’t ever have to use it. We’ve got to sell it on that basis.”