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Reprieve on way for coastal sirens

PUBLISHED: 07:32 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 08:58 13 July 2010

COUNCILLORS have approved plans to save 40 of the 57 coastal flood warning sirens which were due to be scrapped, and the county council's cabinet is expected to rubber-stamp the decision at its next meeting.

COUNCILLORS have approved plans to save 40 of the 57 coastal flood warning sirens which were due to be scrapped, and the county council's cabinet is expected to rubber-stamp the decision at its next meeting.

Now the authority will need to lobby district councils and the police for support to implement any changes.

Steve Dorrington, committee chairman, said afterwards that there was overwhelming public support for the decision.

Meanwhile serious failings have been identified in the emergency response to last year's tidal surge when Norfolk came within a whisker of a flooding disaster.

A new report says the operation was beset with problems, including insufficient supplies of food at rest centres, lack of phone chargers in emergency planning rooms and a break in the chain of command among those tasked with dealing with the crisis.

Most areas survived by inches - though residents at Walcott complained flood warning sirens were not used to alert people to the dangers.

The 50-page report by John Ellis, interim head of emergency planning at Norfolk County Council, to the council's fire and community protection review panel said that while the response was “ultimately successful”

there were a host of issues

which needed to be dealt with.

Besides approving a reprieve for most of the sirens they agreed to set up a special working party to look in detail at what happened after reports of poor co-operation between officials and lack of basic resources to cope.

Labour's Coleen Walker said: “There was a lot more that went wrong than went right. I thank God we didn't have that extra inch of water.”

North Norfolk Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, who has backed the campaign, said: “I'm thrilled. This is an incredibly important victory because of the importance of the sirens to these coastal committees as part of their safety system.

“It's a demonstration of how campaigning can work and how people working together can actually change decisions.”

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