Chichester MP Wades In To Urgent Talks With Southern Water & Environment Agency Over Thorney Island Floods

Gillian Keegan MP pictured at a visit to the school in the summer.

Children from the nearby military base have been taken to school in military vehicles to get through the flood water.

Military families are among hundreds of people who have felt the impact of flooding across West Sussex in recent weeks as the UK has been battered by storms Babet and Ciaran.

Residents on Thorney Island in Chichester Harbour, which includes Baker Barracks, have resorted to sending their children to school in military people carriers as flood waters have risen. This follows a broken sluice gate which allowed water from the Great Deep to flow onto the island.

For a short time the island’s only primary school was forced to close.

Gillian Keegan, the Member of Parliament for Chichester, convened an urgent meeting with Dean Clegg, Headmaster of Thorney Island Community Primary School, and leaders from Southern Water and the Environment Agency to establish a way forward that would allow children to return to school and life on the island to get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Following the meeting, Mrs Keegan said: “I would like to thank Dean and his team, as well as local partners and agencies, and the Ministry of Defence, for all the work they are doing to ensure people on the island are safe and that children are able to attend school.

“The speed and efficiency at which contingency plans have been put in place at this challenging time is testament to the incredible resilience of the Thorney Island community.

“I will continue to push for a long-term solution to flooding on the island and ensure the relevant agencies are held to account.”

Headmaster Dean Clegg said: “Flooding has had a serious impact on the lives of all residents on Thorney Island. The local school had to be closed for two days as access was not possible. Children were reintroduced to home learning as was the case in the pandemic, which is never ideal. Families had difficulties accessing health care and without the support of the military the community would have been totally isolated.

“Gillian Keegan was extremely proactive in bringing the various agencies involved together to look for both a long and short-term solution. The situation has now much improved, and we are hoping that the various agencies involved will continue to work together proactively to resolve the flooding we experienced.”

This week marks Flood Action Week. This annual campaign by the Environment Agency aims to increase awareness of the risk of flooding and what to do to prepare.

Mrs Keegan commented: “This Flood Action Week I would urge all residents in coastal and riverside communities to visit the Environment Agency’s ‘prepare for flooding’ advice page. Knowing just one action you can take ahead of time can reduce the effects on your home and family, and even save a life.”

A spokesperson for Southern Water, said: 

“We’re continuing to work with the Environment Agency and the Ministry of Defence to explore options to reduce tidal flooding on Thorney Island. This work includes a temporary fix to alleviate current issues, as well as the exploration of a longer-term approach once roles and responsibilities relating to the eastern tidal sluice gate are agreed. 


“We know how concerned local residents are about this issue and we will continue to engage fully with all parties to help find the best solution.” 

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