LESSONS need to be learnt after flooding affected residents in West Oxfordshire over Christmas, according to a councillor.

West Oxfordshire District Council’s (WODC) environment and overview scrutiny committee met to discuss the impact of the floods and what can be done to tackle the problem in the future.

The district was hit by floods following heavy rain in the lead up to Christmas, and councillors recently met to discuss the situation.

Andrew Coles, district councillor for the Witney central ward, said at the meeting that although local authorities and services reacted well to the floods, more needed to be done.

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He said: “I think the Ubico team when they turned up on the night were marvellous, they worked incredibly hard, and full credit to them and the fire service, who were absolutely fantastic.

“We desperately need to learn lessons from Christmas, and the positioning of sandbags.

“When we had that heavy rain on December 23, we know from experience that water is going to come down and head into Witney between 24 and 36 hours later.

“I would’ve hoped we would’ve used that time to get better prepared.

“There are an awful lot of lessons to be learnt and there is still much work to do.”

District councillor Andrew Coles

District councillor Andrew Coles

Council officer Andy Barge, group manager for strategic support, told councillors that WODC only received a warning just an hour before the flooding started.

He said: “The flood warning from the Environment Agency (EA) came very late, I believe it was around 7.30 in the evening and the main event started to take place at 8.30 in the evening.

“As a district council, we receive our notifications from the EA or the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum.

“None of the principle agencies made contact to warn of the event.

“We saw some flooding in areas where we’ve not seen it before so we’re checking where our sand bunker locations are.”

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During the meeting, district councillor for the Charlbury and Finstock ward, Liz Leffman, warned of the impact future housing developments could have.

She said: “It’s not just about the housing developments but it’s also about how the water gets displaced, this is something we should be very cautious about.”