Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Water water everywhere

A resolution on flooding was put forward in 2009, and although it was not accepted, it was of great interest to many members and so under the banner of environment it was decided to look further into flooding. The result was the creation of flooding workshops in partnership with the Environment Agency.

I spent yesterday morning in Cambridge at the third of these flooding workshops – the other two had been held in the West Midlands and Devon – discussing floods, their history, their causes and some possible solutions. There was also discussion on issues relevant to the area, including what might happen to excess water where thousands of new dwellings are built. We spoke of the recommended provisions in the Pitt Review, including the active response by communities before, during and after flooding and the recruitment of Flood Wardens. You know, so many of these proposals fit quite naturally with the ethos of the WI.

Householders, parish councils, indeed, anyone, may sign up to receive flood warnings wherever they are. Go to the Environment Agency website, if you are interested in learning more.

Not living near a stretch of water Riparian Rights is something I know little about, but, as with all rights come responsibilities. I learned that householders whose land stretches to the bank of a river are responsible for that bank along their boundary and also for that water to the middle of the width. This must surely come from the time of the ancient Franks living on the Rhine between the Meuse and the Moselle and the code they observed for harmonious living.

And this type of discussion I also had yesterday around the ‘Big Society’, in an interview for the Office of Public Management Public Service Futures programme. In many ways WI members are already doing or living the ideals of this ‘Big Society’; being engaged in their own communities and coming together within their WIs to make a positive difference to their lives and the lives of others. The ‘Big Society’ is about rights and responsibilities too and as such will mean commitment at all levels.

Footnote: I learned of Elton John editing The Independent newspaper today. Where WI Life leads others follow; the WI has a guest edited edition of our membership magazine coming up in 2011.
And congratulations to WI Life Editor Neal Maidment for his nomination from the Periodicals Training Council as ’new editor of the year’ - an accolade in the big society of periodicals.