Andrew today visited 10 Downing Street to call on the government to back a major flood defence project that would help to safeguard Oxford and the surrounding areas from future floods.
Together with Labour City Councillor Bob Price, County Councillor Rodney Rose, and Nicola Blackwood MP, Andrew put the case to the government that the impact of recent flooding on Oxford, including closure of Botley Road and Abingdon Road, has had a major impact on the local economy, with an estimated loss of £50m each week to the region, not to mention the untold human misery the floods have caused.
In a meeting with the Prime Minister's advisors, Andrew pressed the case for the Western Conveyance Channel, which if built would significantly improve the area's flood flow capacity. The conveyance channel mirrors similar projects elsewhere which have proved successful, and with wide cross party support is thought to be the only viable solution to significantly reduce the impact of future flooding. The channel would allow water to pass through and around the city more efficiently and would significantly reduce flood risk to premises and transport links.
Cost estimates for the channel, along with a scheme further down the river for Abingdon, have been placed in the region of £125m, for which councils are arguing additional national funding will need to be allocated for the project to be viable.
Andrew said: "We presented a very strong case to the Number 10 advisors today and stressed not only the human cost but the massive economic cost to the city and how vital it is that we tackle effectively the danger of future flooding. Flooding with the scale and frequency we have seen recently could cast a blight across the huge economic potential of central Oxfordshire, and that has to be a matter for national as well as local action."
Labour Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: "I was pleased with the clear level of understanding that the advisors showed at our meeting. They were committed to tackling the problem we face with flooding in Oxford seriously. There is a very strong economic case for this scheme but we do need partnership funding. We hope that by raising this issue with Number 10 today the Oxford Flood Resilience Scheme will be prioritised for an early decision."
A Flooding Summit has been arranged next month which will bring local and national stakeholders together to discuss the proposals in more depth and to identify potential funding opportunities.
The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is conducting a survey into the effects of the recent floods on Oxfordshire's businesses. To take part, please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Y9JXXY7 or the LEP web site www.oxfordshirelep.org.uk