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Datchet councillor eyes Surrey County Council merger over flooding dispute

A councillor has floated the idea of Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury ward becoming part of Surrey County Council due to frustration over River Thames Scheme funding.

Work on the £640million scheme, which proposes building three flood alleviation channels alongside the Thames, is yet to start due to a cash shortfall.

The Royal Borough has pledged £10million to the project but said an additional £43million is needed to complete the Berkshire section, with a flooding levy one of the suggestions to plug the gap.

But Cllr Ewan Larcombe, who represents the villages on behalf of the National Flood Prevention Party, said the Royal Borough needed to replace words with ‘prompt action’.

He raised the possibility of the ward breaking away and joining Surrey County Council who pledged to spend £290 million on long-term flood risk management in October, including a contribution to the River Thames Scheme.

Cllr Larcombe said: “Not only has the Royal Borough failed for years to arrange the partnership funding required for similar protection to the villages downstream but the ordinary watercourses that are an important and necessary feature of the land drainage infrastructure have been allowed to deteriorate to a state where they no longer perform their function.

“My ward is on the extreme edge of the borough and used to be in Buckinghamshire. Then we were moved into Berkshire so I don’t see a problem moving on into Surrey – subject to agreement of course.”

A Royal Borough spokeswoman said Datchet could only be transferred to a neighbouring county via a boundary review.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) are charged with running such reviews.

Cllr David Cannon (Con, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) said he was ‘astounded’ Cllr Larcombe had chosen a time of national crisis to raise his boundary review proposal.

He added: “The ward is an integral part of the Royal Borough, as is demonstrated by one of its ward councillors, Gary Muir, being deputy mayor, and myself being a cabinet member

and two out of three ward councillors having a strong voice, representing the ward at the heart of the council.

“The council has consistently demonstrated its commitment to the River Thames Scheme by budgeting over £10million to this scheme to date and committing up to another £43M, subject to Government enabling us to raise the funding to repay that amount.”

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