‘A different approach needed’ - Calderdale Floods chief

National Flood Forum chief executive Paul Cobbing in Mytholmroyd.
National Flood Forum chief executive Paul Cobbing in Mytholmroyd.

The Calderdale Floods Commission chief has set out his vision to drive forward plans for flood prevention and how a different approach is needed to achieve this.

Paul Cobbing, the chief executive of the charity National Flood Forum, was appointed as the independent chair of the commission and has outlined his focus in putting together the first interim report into the floods in April. “There is a realisation we have got to do something different.

“There has to be a step-change in thinking about how we tackle flooding, and this has to happen at every level up to and including Government. Calderdale’s Floods Commission gives us the opportunity to do just that.

“We have an enthusiastic team of councillors who have lots of ideas and lots of different experiences and we have to pull together these skills.

“However, the important thing about the commission is to listen to the people of the flood hit communities while it is still fresh and raw in their minds.

“We want people to come to us so the commission can ask the questions to agencies on their behalf.”

The focus of the Commission will be around the key themes of emergency preparedness and response, the economy, a place where people want to live, infrastructure (physical), upland and countryside management, and national and regional agenda.

The seven Councillors who will serve on the Flood Commission are Councillor Janet Batty, Councillor Barry Collins, Councillor Rob Holden, Councillor Mike Payne, Councillor Susan Press, Councillor Steve Sweeney and Councillor Andrew Tagg.

Mr Cobbing, who also witnessed the effects of the 2012 floods in the Calder Valley, said all aspects will be looked at to prevent the scale of floods that were seen on Boxing Day 2015.

“Words like exceptional and unprecedented are becoming common place so we need to do something that is different and really make a difference.

“What these things are we don’t know yet but we need to take this opportunity to see what we can really do and what people really need in the short term and long term.

“This isn’t an analysis of what went right or wrong.

“We are trying to take the opportunity to reflect on what’s happened but also look seriously at what really needs to happen for the future.”

The Commission will be holding meetings around the borough around a number of key themes. These specific meetings differ from the Flood Roadshow set up by Calderdale Council.

The commission meetings will be held on: Tuesday February 16,

7pm – 9pm at Calder High School, Mytholmroyd. Theme, “A place where people want to live”.

Wednesday February 17, 1.30pm – 3.30pm at Halifax Town Hall. Theme, “Emergency Preparedness and Response”.

Wednesday February 24, 7pm – 9pm at Christ Church School, Sowerby Bridge. Theme, “The Economy”.

Monday March 14, 7pm – 9pm at Hebden Bridge Town Hall. Theme, “Upland and Countryside Management”.

An event in Elland is currently being organised with dates and venue to be confirmed.