Suffolk residents have raised questions over whether a flood barrier proposed earlier in the year could have prevented scores of people being evacuated from their homes due to flooding.

Needham Market was one of the worst-affected areas during Storm Babet last month, which saw flooding leaving much of the town impassable and many residents displaced from homes.   

It has now been revealed that a meeting was held months before the recent storms, on February 16, in which a flood barrier was discussed as a potential solution to the flood risk.

Hosted by the Environment Agency, the meeting highlighted areas deemed at risk of future flooding by the River Gipping, which included Pinecroft Way, houses off Coddenham Road, and areas near the railway bridge.

A "potential solution" was raised by the audience that involved placing a removable barrier next to the Coddenham Road railway bridge, to prevent water reaching homes and the Lion Barn industrial estate.

According to notes from the meeting, a quotation was sought for the work, which amounted to £15,175.

Graeme Cowey, whose 86-year-old mother Margaret had to be evacuated from her home in Limetree Close, asked if the barrier could have saved many homes from disaster.

Mr Cowey said: “A very cost-effective solution was proposed, yet this was not installed. The barrier may have saved many homes from the disaster they are now trying to recover from.

“My mother’s own property will cost hundreds of thousands of maintenance or restoration, and that’s just one house.

“Nobody at any age needs to go through that experience but at 86 years old, living on your own, you definitely shouldn’t.

"We have been clearing her house of all her worldly goods. It has been soul-destroying."

However, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency said that the flood barrier is "not technically feasible" and "would not have prevented the flooding".

The spokesperson said: "We sympathise with those affected by the flooding caused by the recent storms. 

“We responded quickly to reports of flooding and are now working closely with partners to help communities recover. 

“A flood barrier at Coddenham Road railway bridge is not technically feasible and would not have prevented the flooding from Storm Babet. This is because it would not have prevented flooding from the Lion Barn drain, other tributaries, or surface water. 

“We are delivering a flood project for properties at risk of flooding in Needham Market. This could include Property Flood Resilience measures such as new flood doors and other interventions. We have offered this to 32 properties so far.”