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The Filey Flood Alleviation Scheme

I am Mike Cockerill; I live in Filey with my wife. I sit on both Scarborough Borough Council and Filey Town Council. In the past I have also served on North Yorkshire County Council.

I sat on the Cabinet of Scarborough Borough Council between 2011 and 2019; a major part of my portfolio was in regard to Major Projects. The Filey Flood Alleviation Scheme was one such project.

Filey does not have any significant watercourse that is likely to be the cause of any major flooding. The risk to Filey is from the runoff from the surrounding and higher agricultural land to the North, South and West of the town. To the East we have the sea that, even in atrocious conditions, e.g. - the Beast from the East, does not cause significant areas of flooding.

I first became involved in flooding in 2000 when I was notified that properties in a cul de sac on the northern boundary of Filey were experiencing some flooding. The source of the flooding was the runoff from the agricultural land.

Image courtesy of Mike Cockerill

I formed a small multi-agency task group to investigate the cause and suggest any remedial action that might be taken. The group had representatives from Filey Town Council, Scarborough Borough Council, North Yorkshire County Council, the EA, landowners and Yorkshire Water.

The cause of the flooding was accepted as being the construction of the residential estate that had interrupted the natural drainage routes without providing adequate alternative routes.

The group managed to have a number of small, but important, improvements made to the drainage infrastructure.

Unfortunately, nothing prepared the cul de sac or the whole of Filey for the major event of 10 August 2002 when hundreds of properties were flooded, over 80mm of rain fell in a couple of hours. Some only experienced external problems but hundreds had internal flooding.

Filey was largely left to fend for itself as the storm had caused problems over a wide area.

Filey Town Council, of which I was a member, decided to formalise my ad hoc task group into the Filey Flood Working Group with the remit to investigate the cause of the flooding and to put forward ways to mitigate the problem. Another group, the Emergency Plan Group, was also formed and tasked with making preparations for any emergency. This group, in the main, concentrates on having arrangements in place to quickly create and operate a Rest Centre for residents whose properties have experienced flooding during a major event.

Image courtesy of Mike Cockerill

Image courtesy of Mike Cockerill

On 18 July 2007 Filey experienced another serious flood, with over 80mm of rain falling within 90 minutes. This time the storm was concentrated over Filey and assistance was quickly forthcoming from Scarborough Borough Council and later North Yorkshire County Council.

Silver Command was set up in the Senior School, including groups such as the RNLI and the Police.

I was touring Filey assessing the situation and made regular contact with Scarborough Borough Council. I also made regular reports via Radio York.

Following the event Scarborough Borough Council received funding from external sources and it was decided that resilience measures should be the priority.

A demonstration event was arranged with representatives from companies supplying flood resilience products. Residents were asked to apply for the products they felt were best suited for their individual needs

In the main the products supplied were flood gates, demountable air brick covers and air ducts that allowed external air brick to be permanently raised but still ensured that air could flow under the floorboards.

The process was administered by Scarborough Borough Council but with decisions taken by Filey Town Council.

Filey does not have a Flood Risk Management Scheme but is working towards the implementation of the Filey Flood Alleviation Scheme. Following the 2002 event I was asked what measures were required to help protect Filey. I replied that an enormous ditch right round the town was needed. After over 17 years of working towards it, that is what we are about to have constructed.

Image courtesy of Mike Cockerill

As the level of flooding in my area of Filey was largely external, apart from some bags of sand that I can place across the entrance to my drive, I don’t have any anti-flood measures. Following both the 2002 and 2007 events, a detailed survey was conducted to create a map of the extent of the flooding. This confirmed that my property was unlikely to suffer from internal flooding.

We don’t get flood warnings due to the nature of the events that Filey suffers.

However, I have noticed that more detailed flood response plans have been prepared by the Local Authorities and Filey Town Council has its Emergency Plan.

The only physical measures I have seen in my area to take action against flood risk are those that can be installed when flooding starts.

Filey Town Council, in the past, published and distributed an Emergency Folder containing information to all the households in Filey.

I have always been an advocate of being prepared and encourage others in areas likely to experience flooding to do the same.

I was pleased that apart from a little water in the garden I did not experience anything major. The road in front of my property was like a river but little came down my drive. Some came across neighbours gardens onto my drive and garden.

The flood didn’t affect me except in my role as a Councillor. Particularly in the 2007 flood, I liaised with officers from Scarborough Borough Council (SBC), together with the Leader of SBC, providing information as I toured the main areas of flooding. I was also able to provide advice and information to some of the worst affected residents.

The main flood water drained away the same day but the after-effects lasted for up to a year.

To all residents who may find themselves in a similar position to me with regards to flooding, I would recommend to listen to advice and be prepared as much as you can.