Local Elections 2021: Cambs and Peterborough mayoral candidates on flood risks

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Local Elections 2021: Flooding leaves March woman 'constantly on edge'

Overdevelopment of flood-prone areas has been blamed for worsening flooding in Cambridgeshire towns such as March. One voter says he believes the planning system needs to be overhauled to prevent the situation getting any worse. How do mayoral candidates feel they can help?

County councils advise new developers on issues to do with flooding during the planning stage of building.

However, the next mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will have a budget for new developments and infrastructure - and where those developments are could impact on people like James Hill and his mum Christine Morrison.

After serious floods in 2014 and 2020, she has had to pay tens of thousands of pounds for repairs her home in March.

Image caption,
Homes in March, including these bungalows in Poplar Close, were flooded after torrential rain in 2014

Mr Hill believes the overdevelopment of the area is to blame, and that the new housing prevents the water draining.

He said: "She is constantly on edge.

"The town has grown at such a rate there is nowhere for the water to go, whereas previously it would seep into the field," he said.

In alphabetical order, the candidates for mayor set out their plans below.

Nik Johnson, Labour

Image source, Nik Johnson

"The mayor, with the combined authority executive, has to lead in recognising the challenge of water management resources and make the important decisions to prevent the paradoxical self-inflicted wounds of flooded homes in the winter, dried riverbeds and a failing natural chalk aquifer in the summer.

"I am calling for an urgent independent review of all future housing developments and how to balance the risk of flooding and over-exploitation of dwindling water resources."

James Palmer, Conservatives

Image source, Terry Harris

"There is strict guidance when it comes to land being developed in areas that are susceptible to flooding.

"All planning decisions are made by planning authorities and the mayor does not have any final say on planning decisions.

"The Fens cover vast swathes of Cambridgeshire, not just Fenland, and development on fenland is not usually sought or delivered because of the significant danger of subsidence."

Aidan Van de Weyer, Liberal Democrats

Image source, Aidan Van de Weyer

"In response to the climate emergency, we need to think about how to make our communities more resilient to extreme weather.

"We certainly should not be building more houses on areas at risk of flooding. Recent flooding has also shown just how vulnerable many houses can be, especially in the Fens.

"The Conservative government's cuts to flood defences need to be reversed and quickly."

Current figures from the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU), show that for every £100 spent by Cambridgeshire County Council, £5.37 goes on environmental services. However, this does not include other forms of council spending such as one-off capital investments.

A modern browser with JavaScript and a stable internet connection is required to view this interactive. More information about these elections

Note: This lookup covers national elections in Scotland and Wales, the Hartlepool by-election, as well as council and mayoral elections in England and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections in England and Wales. There may be parish council elections or council by-elections where you are. Check your local council website for full details. Last updated: May 11, 2021, 12:35 GMT

A special programme with all three candidates - called A Mayor for Cambridge and Peterborough - will be broadcast at 14:20 BST on Sunday on BBC One in the East.

Image caption,
Bungalows in Poplar Close, March, were flooding in the torrential rain on Friday afternoon

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