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Pontypridd politicians launch ‘blueprint for flood recovery’

Written by on 26th November 2020

Mick Antoniw, Member of Senedd for Pontypridd, and MP for Pontypridd Alex Davies-Jones have launched a report which they say is a ‘blueprint for flood recovery’ to help the residents and businesses still struggling nine months after devastating floods hit the Taff valley following Storm Dennis in February this year.

The MS and MP highlight six key asks in their report – which details the impact of the floods on so many of their constituents living in the Pontypridd and Taff Ely areas – including asking for a network of flood ambassadors, regular flood drills and an assessment by the local health board into the mental health impact of the flooding. There should also be practical flood resilience help made available to all who need it, say the Pontypridd politicians.

Since last winter Mick Antoniw and Alex Davies-Jones have held regular public meetings, meetings with affected businesses and organised flood relief funding, firstly through a Crowdfunder appeal which overtopped its initial £5,000 target to reach more than £34,000 and through a donation by the Moondance charity, which saw £100,000 distributed between the most badly affected households.

They’ve also held meetings to highlight constituents’ concerns with agencies including Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Water. They have worked closely with Rhondda Cynon Taf council and local councillors and the report details some of the practical and ongoing repair work that has already taken place to maintain and repair flood-related infrastructure.

Together the MP and MS have joined forces with other local politicians to press the UK Government for its promised funding to help with special funding to the flood hit areas for substantial infrastructure repairs.

In the ‘Taff Ely Flooding Report’ the MS and MP call for:

1. A fund to be set up to ensure everyone who needs practical ‘flood resilience’ equipment gets it, regardless of affordability. This could mean flood gates, flood doors, vent protections or ‘non-return valves’ which only allow liquid to pass through them one-way. They want the fund to be set up by Natural Resources Wales, funded by Welsh Government working with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

2. A network of flood ambassadors set up in all the affected communities. Flood ambassadors would play a central role in ensuring community readiness is maintained.

3. They are calling for periodic flood warning drills to be carried by NRW and the emergency services in the affected communities. This should include getting warnings out to residents and a flood test to “provide reassurance that procedures remain fit for purpose and are working as required”.

4. Local stocks of sandbags to be available for when needed. Controlling access to these could be one of the functions of the flood ambassadors.

5. Urgent infrastructure repairs at two bridges across the River Taff – at Castle Inn and Berw Road in Pontypridd.

6. An assessment of the impact of flooding on mental health (particularly on older people and children) by the local health board. Counselling should be made available.

Mick Antoniw MS said:

“The floods affected 1,800 Taff Ely households with 321 homes seeing the worst effects of the flooding directly impacted on their homes. Businesses were also badly affected, with the those located on the Treforest Industrial Estate and Pontypridd high street among those suffering damage which ran into tens of millions of pounds.

“We have set out our key asks to the agencies and organisations which we think are practical and achievable and should help to give residents some reassurances as we continue to experience some heavy rain this autumn.

“Our community pulled together amazingly during the floods. Now it is time to make sure that they can be better prepared, both mentally and practically, should we experience such unprecedented rainfall again – as unfortunately this may not be a one-off due to the impacts of climate change.”

Alex Davies-Jones MP said:

“As winter draws closer, we are very aware of the concerns and anxieties residents have and are working to help ensure that all our communities and all the relevant agencies are as well prepared as possible for future adverse weather events. We are adamant that no home should be unable to benefit from practical help because of affordability.

“It also became apparent to us that the flooding has had an impact on the mental health of many residents – particularly those with young children and on vulnerable older people and people with disabilities – which is why we are calling for an assessment of the mental health impact of the flooding. The impact is ongoing and for some there is now quite understandable anxiety every time it rains heavily.

“The scale and severity of this flooding was truly shocking to see. We hope this report sets out clearly the impact it has had on residents and businesses – and shows that Mick Antoniw and I have been working hard to get answers to the many understandable questions that arose as a result of the flooding. This is not an event any of us ever want to live through again, but being as prepared as we can be is our best defence.”