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Windsor and Maidenhead council slammed over flood channel scheme U-turn

The Royal Borough has been accused of ‘gambling with the lives of residents’ over its decision not to honour its funding commitment for the River Thames Scheme.

The £640 million project proposed constructing a new flood channel, built in three sections, to protect communities alongside the River Thames.

But the Royal Borough looks set to miss out on the scheme after it failed to secure the £43 million required to fund its share.

This means ‘Channel One’, covering Datchet, Horton, Wraysbury and parts of Old Windsor will not go ahead as planned.

A petition signed by more than 1,500 residents was discussed at a full council meeting on Tuesday with Wraysbury Parish Council chairman Margaret Lenton calling on the local authority to fulfil its promises.

Councillor Ewan Larcombe (National Flood Prevention Party, Datchet Horton and Wraysbury said): “The people of my ward, and elsewhere, have been sold down the river while the people of Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton have already benefited from the construction of their flood alleviation scheme (Jubilee River).”

Conservative councillor David Cannon, cabinet member for public protection, told the meeting that securing the necessary funding would cost the local authority an extra £1.3million annually for the next 50 years.

He added this would land the taxpayer with a two per cent rise in council tax with the Government providing no assurance this could be met by a flood alleviation levy.

The decision to exclude the Royal Borough’s section of the scheme was ‘non-reversible’ and has already been made by the Environment Agency, he added.

Council leader Andrew Johnson told the meeting he was firmly convinced the scheme should be funded by central Government rather than local councils who have been ‘decimated by coronavirus’.

Councillor Jon Davey (West Windsor Residents Association, Clewer and Dedworth West) said: “There’s a one in 10, one in 20, one in 100 year chance of flooding.

“It’s a gamble with the lives of residents.”

Councillors voted by 19 votes to 18 to seek alternative flood defence schemes and maintain its position it cannot afford Channel One as planned.

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