RESIDENTS in East Swindon are to rally together in response to the recent downpours by forming flood action groups in their communities.

Next month, groups will be formed in Walcot and Parks, Covingham and Nythe to identify problems and act as a pressure group to the local authorities.

The initiative was sparked after Swindon was selected as one of six towns and cities for a pilot scheme to be funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The scheme has been running since November, and after residents expressed an interest in getting involved, the groups will be formed in March.

Grace Martin, community resilience officer in Swindon for the National Flood Forum, has been leading the initiative.

“What is important is that all our projects are responding to the local needs in each situation, so each project has got to be different,” she said. “We need to have that community approach.

“There are lots of varied flood risks in the east locality. There is river flooding from the Dorcan brook, along with ground water flooding and surface water flooding. The big concerns are around Cavendish Square, which floods a lot, as well as problems with the Coate Water underpass, which is often inaccessible. Quite a lot of the time there are drainage problems, but people also have a lot of concerns around the eastern development.

“The flood action groups will be the voice of their community. They will have meetings with the National Flood Forum and the local authority, and will be driven by issues in the community. Each agency will then be given actions to take away and implement.

“One group will be for Walcot and Parks, another for Covingham, and another for Nythe.

“While a lot of people think because they haven’t been flooded recently they are not at risk, that does not mean they are safe.”

Community Flood Champions are being selected to work across the town in areas of deprivation.

Sarah Smith, 49, community flood champion for Walcot East, said: “Having lived through floods while living in Brinkworth I know how bad things can get with constant rain as we have seen recently.

“It is a famous pastime of England to talk about the weather, and everyone has a grumble, but we can do something about it as well.

“This is about trying to interact with the community and get people to rally together to be a bigger voice to take to the authorities. The whole idea is go get people that know the area and where the wet spots are.

“People want to do something but their concern is when they ring companies they have to go through an automated service. They would rather deal with somebody they know face to face.”