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Victory in sight for siren campaigners

PUBLISHED: 08:29 18 May 2008 | UPDATED: 12:44 20 May 2010

Campaigners fighting to save the network of flood sirens along the Norfolk coast have victory in their sights after council officers recommended that most be saved.

Campaigners fighting to save the network of flood sirens along the Norfolk coast have victory in their sights after council officers recommended that most be saved.

Under the proposals, which go before the county council's fire and community protection review panel next week , 40 of the 57 sirens originally due to be scrapped would be retained, with the remainder removed and kept as spares.

Norfolk County Council had planned to scrap all the sirens in order to save £35,000 a year, with the county relying instead on an Environment Agency's Floodline Warnings Direct (FWD) which issues warnings via landlines, text messages, fax, pagers and email.

But the plans caused a public outcry, and more than 2,000 people signed a petition calling for the sirens to be retained. The council responded by setting up a sub-committee to look at the options.

A report that will go before Tuesday's meeting recommends that Norfolk police be asked to consider using the sirens in their day-to-day evacuation processes. There was anger after the sirens were not used during last November's flooding in Walcott.

It also recommends that the Environment Agency be asked to consider using the sirens alongside the existing FWD system; and that a contract with the BBC to activate the sirens using a radio signal be renewed for three years when it expires at the end of July.

The development of a public information package for communities in Norfolk, providing information on self-help and what to do in an emergency, is also proposed.

A consultation carried out by North Norfolk District Council found 61pc of those who responded said they did not trust the FWD system.

Dr Marie Strong, joint co-ordinator of the Wells flood defence plan, has led the campaign to keep the sirens. She said: “We're delighted with the recommendations and very much hope that the panel will be able to accept them and carry them out.

“I hope the panel can also be made aware of the North Norfolk consultation, which indicated that the overwhelming majority engaged in the review favour some kind of siren system.

“I also hope that the police will agree to co-operate with the siren system and the Environment Agency will fund modern sirens.”

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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