Councillors clash over funding to tackle flooding and anti-social behaviour

News from Melton Borough CouncilNews from Melton Borough Council
News from Melton Borough Council
Melton borough councillors have clashed over setting aside an extra £100,000 in the budget to support householders affected by flooding and to tackle anti-social behaviour issues.

Members of the opposition Conservative group suggested at the latest full council meeting that the funds be made available – £50,000 for flood support and the same amount for activities to engage young people – as an amendment to the budget agreed by the controlling Labour and Independent group.

Tory councillors argued that the council should be doing more to help residents after recent storms saw 66 homes flooded in the borough.

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They also said the authority must be proactive in dissuading youngsters from acting anti-socially following a spate of issues in the town in shops and restaurants and on the streets.

The Conservatives proposed that the money be taken from council reserves but the motion was defeated at a vote after Labour and Independent councillors argued it would have left the council in a vulnerable financial position. They said the issues were important but a more strategic approach should be taken to seek long-term solutions rather than short-term fixes.

Proposing the amendment to the budget at the meeting, Councillor Malise Graham said: “Sandbags are not the only option here. I gave the example earlier of Wymondham that if they could have a digger for half a day that would alleviate a lot of flood issues there. We all know £50,000 is not going to scratch the surface but it’s a start. I think it will make a hell of a lot of difference to parishes which are struggling and from what we are told will struggle a great deal more in the future.”

His thoughts were echoed by Councillor Ronan Browne, who said residents in his Frisby ward had been in tears over flooding issues.

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He also called on the council to back the proposal to set aside the £50,000 to tackle anti-social behaviour by setting up an organisation to engage young people via a programme of activities and establishing a youth strategy for the borough.

The leader, Councillor Pip Allnatt, rejected the request saying it would be ‘irresponsible’ to take £100,000 out of reserves.

“Drawing down this amount of money is not going to go very far. It’s a gesture,” he told the meeting.

He was backed by Councillor Leigh Higgins, who said he had flooding issues in his Somerby ward and that the council should take ‘a strategic approach’.

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Earlier in the meeting, Councillor Simon Orson, one of the ward members for Long Clawson and Stathern, criticised the borough council’s response to flooding in Clawson, particularly when the GP surgery was under threat from rising flood waters.

In a question to the leader, he said: “Melton Borough Council seems to have shunned any responsibility, past or present, and what with climate change, what action will communities like mine get considering the increasing impact of flooding due to climate change?”

In response, Councillor Allnatt said a full report would be prepared for flooding issues in the borough so councillors would then be able to debate the way forward.

Leicestershire County Council is the lead local authority responsible for the co-ordination and management of flood risk across the county.

Melton Borough Council issues sandbags and manage a number of local volunteer flood wardens.