City Property Association president warns London Mayor of a ‘potential disaster’

An Aon executive and president of the City Property Association has called on the new Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to intervene in negotiations over flood defences in the capital, warning of a “potential disaster”.

Bill Gloyn, chairman of real estate Europe in Aon’s mergers and acquisitions team, took up the presidency of the association, which represents owners and occupiers of City properties, at the start of May.

Gloyn’s open letter to Johnson said: “We are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential disaster that threatens the City from the risk of flood.

“From the recent experience at City Hall, you will be well aware of how devastating that can be – for residents, businesses and transport alike. Bearing in mind that the recent flood resulted from the fracture of a 20-inch water main, it is quite horrific to contemplate the consequences of the predicted flooding that could occur should the defences fail around the 928ft wide River Thames just on your own doorstep.”

He added: “Although it is appreciated that the problem is really one for central government, who appear to be resisting calls for increased expenditure in flood defences by both us and the insurance industry, it does seem that you, as Mayor, also have a duty to take some action to attempt to avoid a future disaster – to both London and UK plc.”

Gloyn has not yet received a response to the letter.

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “Although London has the best tidal flood defences in the UK, flood risk is a major concern to the Mayor and he understands the devastating effects that a major flood could have on the capital and its economy. The Mayor is however reassured by the fact that GLA officers have been in regular discussion with the Environment Agency over recent years with regard to their ongoing detailed study of the flood risk management needs of the Thames Estuary up to 2100. The work is evolving and the Mayor will be paying close attention to all emerging recommendations.”

The insurance industry has been pressing the government to spend more money on flood defences, and to commit to implementing the findings of Sir Michael Pitt’s review of flood management. Some insurers have threatened to withdraw cover in flood-prone areas if the government does not take action.

Last week, the ABI attacked the government for suggesting that insurers had not done enough to rehouse victims of last summer’s floods (News, 22 May).

Do you want answers from the government on the issue of flooding? Will insurers continue to offer cover in areas where the risk is greater than the premium? How accountable is the Enivronment Agency for preventing and dealing with floods? To find out please, join us for the 2008 Flooding Question Time, where David Blunkett will lead a panel of esteemed industry experts.