A new “emergency service” that will provide back-up to police, fire and ambulance in disasters like fires or floods is now fully operational.
Father Jonathan Sibley, chairman and coordinator of The Suttons and The Wash Emergency Planning Group, said Lincolnshire County Council had decided the group can go live following months of preparation for the role by its members.
It will serve areas including Long Sutton, Sutton Bridge, Lutton, Tydd St Mary and Gedney.
Boxes containing things like yellow jackets, wind-up torches and first aid essentials will be kept at Market House in Long Sutton, The Curlew Centre in Sutton Bridge and other centres for use in emergencies.
District and parish councillor Michael Booth, a farmer, is the group’s chief flood warden and he has a small army of contacts who have equipment such as generators, tractors and trailers, and boats.
At the height of the east coast tidal surge of December 5, 2013, when water threatened to overtop the banks of the Nene in Sutton Bridge, Coun Booth said his village had been “two inches from disaster”.
Given that near miss – and recent scenes in Cumbria and Yorkshire – Coun Booth says it would be quite wrong for people to believe it couldn’t happen here and it makes sense to have a plan of action and trained emergency volunteers.
During the tidal surge threat, Coun Booth was one of a team of parish councillors trying to deliver sandbags to homes in Lime Street and says their job was made more difficult as sightseers crowded in.
He said: “There were (sightseers’) cars parked everywhere and we just couldn’t get to the houses that needed them.”
Now the emergency group is up and running, he says they can ask police for their consent to close the roads.
Once they have the police okay they can just go ahead and do it if it is “in the public interest”.
Coun Booth said there was little interest in an emergency group in Sutton Bridge until the village was threatened by the tidal surge.
But then volunteers came forward and Sutton Bridge decided to join forces with Long Sutton because its emergency planning was at a more advanced stage.
He stressed the group’s role is to assist the emergency services – when those services request their help – and not to take their place.