Birmingham City Council has a role in responding to and investigating flooding incidents, however other groups and individuals also have a part to play.
When flooding occurs, or is threatened, people often look to the local authority to take responsibility and take steps to prevent or reduce flooding. However, local authorities do not have a statutory duty to prevent properties from flooding. The powers are largely “permissive” – i.e. local authorities can undertake works in the general public interest but are not obliged to act.
The city council has a Corporate Emergency Plan that specifies how the city council will respond to any incident. This is prepared, maintained and activated by the Resilience and Flood Risk Management Team. In addition to this there is the Multi-Agency Flood Plan for Birmingham which specifically outlines how multi-agency partners will work together to respond to and manage significant flooding incidents. As part of its contingency plans, the city council maintains a number of duty officers which ensures that a range of council services can respond to emergencies 24 hours a day every day.
The city council as Lead Local Flood Authority also has a duty to investigate flooding. Not all flooding will require a formal investigation and report, therefore a three stage investigation process has been developed, this is outlined in the Draft Local Flood Risk Management Strategy.
Provision of Sandbags
Sandbags are considered to be one of the first lines of defence in the event of flooding or potential flooding despite significant evidence of their limitations. In the event of widespread flooding there are insufficient resources available to despatch sandbags to individual properties that request them. This leads to false hope and flood defence teams being tied up serving a limited number of properties.
The city council will provide sandbags in bulk deliveries to approved and informed stakeholder groups such as Flood Action Groups at specified locations in order that they may form part of a community flood action plan. The community group will take charge of the distribution in accordance with their local plan.
The city council will not generally deliver sandbags to individual properties instead using available resources to attend strategic infrastructure and to deliver bulk sandbag drops to community Flood Action Groups.
Role of Flood Action Groups
One of the best ways a neighbourhood can prepare for flooding is to set up a Flood Action Group. These are community groups, led by volunteers that help residents in the flood watch area prepare and cope with incidents of flooding. Flood Action Groups have designated Flood Wardens who monitor local conditions and facilitate two way communication with the council and Environment Agency. Volunteer’s support the warning of residents, identification of vulnerable people and ensure property level flood protection products (where available) are deployed in an emergency. All Flood Action Groups in Birmingham have identified locations for bulk sand bag drops, and coordinate the distribution to the community.
If you are interested in forming a Flood Action Group, you can contact Resilience and Flood Risk Management Team for support and advice at firstname.lastname@example.org
Flooding Advice for Individual Property Owners
Further information on flood warning and practical advice on what you can do to prepare for flooding, during flooding and after flooding is available on the Birmingham Resilience website.
Individual property owners can help the council to respond to and investigate flooding by:
- Reporting flooding to the appropriate organisation
- Providing detailed information on the nature of the flood and its impact
- Completing flood survey returns thoroughly and returning them as soon as possible.