A media release issued by the York Council on the afternoon of 26th December assured residents that “provisions were in place to protect the City” from flooding.
Less than 14 hours later the Foss barrier had failed, 700 homes and businesses had been flooded and telecoms were down.
The Council issued a further media statement late on 27th saying “The north east of the city is protected from flooding by a flood protection scheme, called the Foss Barrier”.
Which rather demonstrates the need for prompt and informed communications when a crisis develops.
As one of our commentators points out,
“We seem to receive at least one severe warning each year without a trickle of water being seen in the street (Huntington Road). I guess that it’s institutional ‘crying wolf’. Neighbours say that if there had been a real local warning – from, say, a tannoy fitted to a police car, then they would have been able to save more possessions. We are all going to have to move out of homes for six months for reconstruction”.
Cllr Andrew Waller has agreed to take up any communications issues with the appropriate authorities
Coincidentally the Council will debate next week (11th Jan) a study on “E-Democracy”. The review prompted the so called engagement survey where residents were asked to say how they would prefer to communicat with the Council. Ironically the failure to publicise the survey led to a derisory level of engagement with it!
The study also failed to report on the speed of response to issues reported using existing “on line” systems. *
However, more intelligent and timely use of digital systems is undoubtedly at least part of the way forward.
Real time updates on flood levels should be possible even now, while many organisations in the business support and voluntary sector (and others) need to take a hard look at how well they have supported their clients over the last week.
Meanwhile the City remains grateful to the relatively small number of organisations and individuals who, from Monday onwards, organised themselves to meet the emerging gaps in the provision of flood relief services
*It has been confirmed that the much hyped but dysfunctional issue reporting system launched in October is in fact an interim “fix” aimed at replacing a system lost when computer systems were transferred to West Offices 18 months ago.
The new “all bells and whistles” personal account based system – originally promised for introduction in spring 2015 – is now expected to be available later this year and may be soft tested later this month.