WEEKLY COLUMN by Stroud District Council leader Catherine Braun 

I’VE heard many great things about the award-winning Natural Flood Management project in Stroud district.

So, I was delighted to finally visit for myself last week, at Kingscote Woods in Horsley with Chris the Project Officer and other councillors.

Despite the December drizzle, we saw lots of the nature-based measures that the team have introduced, such as positioning fallen trees across water courses to slow the flow of water.

Across the catchment of the River Frome, over 900 of these natural flood interventions have been installed in partnership with landowners.

The approach is low-cost, and its results (available on the council website) are quite astounding - in terms of reduced flood risk, new nature habitats and improved water quality.

I’d love to see natural flood management schemes rolled out more widely across other catchments in our local area.

December is a busy month for council business, and last week the Environment Committee undertook their annual review of Community Infrastructure Levy bids.

They agreed to support seven new projects totalling £1.2m, including improvements to the Merrywalks bus station, a walking and cycling path in Standish, and a new Community Hub in Berkeley.

This week at Council, we’ll discuss a new crowdfunding platform for community projects.

We’re setting aside £100,000, which can be used to match fund successful fundraising campaigns, when the scheme launches next year.

It’s worth noting that community groups (and rural businesses) can already apply for up to £20,000 for capital projects, through another new council fund until March 2025: www.stroud.gov.uk/REPF

Finally, an important project launches this week at Stratford Park Leisure Centre, where a renewable energy heating system will be installed to save carbon emissions and improve the efficiency of the pool water heating, as part of a £5m project.

The pool will close from 13-22 December, but other facilities on site remain open.