DOZENS of Winchester home owners can now claim money from the city council for flood damage incurred in February after the city’s MP successfully lobbied the government to relax the application criteria for a national scheme.
Residents who lost the use of their sewerage systems during the dramatic rise in groundwater are now able to apply for a Defra Repair and Renew Grant of up to £5,000 per household.
Until now, cash could only be claimed by those for whom “habitable internal areas of the premises have been damaged by flooding”.
Winchester MP Steve Brine personally lobbied the Department for Energy and Climate Change after being contacted by disgruntled constituents in recent months.
Last week Minister of State Gregory Barker, who visited Winchester to see the city in April, wrote to him saying the rules were being changed because “people cannot reasonably be expected to live in a property that is not flooded but has no functioning sewerage system.”
One of those who will benefit from the policy tweak is Pelham Warner, of North Drive, Littleton, whose septic tank was out of use for 10 weeks this Spring.
“Ground water levels were so high our tank was completely covered and the electric motor immersed,” he said.
“We had to wait for the flooding to subside then replace the motor.”
After initially being told he was not eligible for the grant, Mr Warner and the three other homeowners who share the septic tank, are now reapplying to recoup the £2,500 they have spent on repairs.
“Without Mr Brine and our city councillor James Byrnes, we wouldn’t have got anywhere,” he added.
Winchester City Council says it is expecting to receive many more grant applications following the rule change.
Steve Brine said: “I know the extension of the rules around Repair and Renew Grant will be something that will be of use to many of my constituents.
“It is a very good outcome, but we are definitely not done in this respect.
“I spoke to the Secretary of State again this week about the Government going further still on the eligibility criteria where septic tanks are not affected, such as where residents spent significant sums of money protecting their neighbours’ property during the crisis.
“Case studies from Winchester are really driving this.”