Jeremy Hunt MP and Waverley Borough Council Host first Infrastructure Resilience Strategy Meeting in Godalming

Senior figures from the utilities and public sector dealing with the impact of extreme weather have been brought together by Jeremy Hunt MP and Waverley Borough Council.

Thanks to support from MP for South West Surrey Jeremy Hunt, the Waverley Infrastructure Resilience Group has been formed and met for the first time on Friday (February 7) at Waverley's offices in Godalming.

As a result of recent storms that hit just before Christmas, the Environment Agency estimates that around 70 homes in Godalming were flooded. The Environment Agency also recorded 361 millimetres of rain at one point in the borough from mid December until January 23 - six months expected rainfall in just six weeks.

To explore where the response can be improved to severe weather in the future and what prevention could provide a benefit to communities, the borough council has been instrumental in initiating the Waverley Infrastructure Resilience Group.

The roll call at the first meeting included:

* The area's Environment Agency flood risk manager
* Two senior figures from Thames Water
* The service delivery managing director from Open Reach which is responsible for BT's phone and broadband network
* Surrey's Chief Fire Officer
* Key figures within UK Power Network and SSE - the two electricity network providers in the borough
* The borough police inspector
* Head of Emergency Management at Surrey County Council

Leader of Waverley Borough Council, Cllr Robert Knowles, co-chaired the meeting along with Mr Hunt.

Cllr Knowles said: "Waverley isn't the lead authority when it comes to flooding and dealing with all the impacts of severe weather. However, our communities look to us during and before incidents like the storms either side of Christmas. Individually all the bodies involved have done some really good work in helping our residents. We are also all of the same view that collectively more can be done for our residents when faced with challenging weather conditions.

"The service delivery managing director from Open Reach has explained that Waverley has been the third most affected area nationally in terms of issues with the telecommunications network as a result of the recent bad weather. This shows that the borough was literally in the eye of the storm in many respects. Sadly these severe weather incidents are likely to become more frequent and Waverley wants to ensure all the companies and services our residents rely on are as resilient as possible."

 Jeremy Hunt said,'We simply can't assume there won't be repeats of the extreme weather we have been seeing locally and we need to be better prepared. So working with Waverley Leader Robert Knowles I am pleased we have taken the unprecedented step of bringing together all the infrastructure companies and emergency services to see what needs to be done. Everyone is committed to solving this, and we have a tight timescale in place to make sure that work starts this year.