‘Only way to beat floods is to move’ says Tipton exec head

PUBLISHED: 16:28 25 November 2016

Youngsters helped Sidmouth firefighters hosing down the playground at Tipton primary school. Ref sho 0603-01-16SH. Photo Simon Horn

Youngsters helped Sidmouth firefighters hosing down the playground at Tipton primary school. Ref sho 0603-01-16SH. Photo Simon Horn

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The only way to prevent flooding at Tipton St John Primary School is to move, the executive head has said.

The clean-up operation at Tipton St. John Primary School gets underway with the help of Sidmouth firefighters. Ref sho Tipton Clean-up 03. Picture: submittedThe clean-up operation at Tipton St. John Primary School gets underway with the help of Sidmouth firefighters. Ref sho Tipton Clean-up 03. Picture: submitted

The school faced another ‘close call’ on Monday and was forced to evacuate 100 pupils and 12 members of staff off the site due to flash flooding.

Colin Butler, executive head for the Otter Valley Federation, has emailed environmental officers and East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire, asking for support to prevent flooding in the short and long term.

The school is looking to move west of Ottery St Mary as its lower site can be left under water if the Metcombe Brook or River Otter flood.

Mr Butler said: “For the last year or so, I have been thankful the last few floods have been at weekends, holidays or overnight. Luck ran out on Monday.

“Monday has reaffirmed my belief that the only safe way to manage the long-term risk of flooding to our school is to move Tipton St John school.”

Assessing the site on Tuesday, Mr Butler said water had come onto the lower site, depositing leaves and silt on the grounds. He also described the field as a ‘boating pond’, adding pupils would be unable to use it for some time.

The executive head said: “Monday was a day where the early warning system should have been working - it wasn’t. It was a day we needed the road changes at the end of the Metcombe completed so that less water flowed past the site - it is still being planned.

“I can only wonder how many more close calls there will be before the necessary works are completed? Will they be completed before a serious flood?”

In light on the latest flooding, Sir Hugo has said he ‘wholeheartedly’ supports the proposals to move the school to Ottery and said more could be done to reduce short-term risk.

Sir Hugo said: “This flooding once again reminds us that the school’s current building is not fit for purpose and desperately needs to be replaced.

“I continue to lobby the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, to try to secure the extra funding required to make these plans a reality.”

Michael Tuckett, head of the school, praised pupils for handling the evacuation to the upper site. “The older children and teaching staff did a great job of supporting the younger children once we had evacuated the lower site.”


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