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Lessons must be learnt from the summer of floods - Harriett Baldwin

29th July 2007

Harriett Baldwin, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for West Worcestershire said this week that lessons need to be learnt from the summer of floods that has hit Worcestershire and neighbouring counties.

Government Ministers in Whitehall are planning an inquiry into the floods. David Cameron joined Sir Michael Spicer and Harriett Baldwin in Upton-upon-Severn this week to hear about issues at first hand from those affected. Harriett Baldwin also toured businesses in Tenbury Wells with the Mayor, Bob Martin. People in the area are calling for a number of areas of concern to be taken into account:

  • Who's in charge ?: There should be clearer lines of responsibility for preventing flooding and tackling flooding emergencies. Since 2000, there have been at least 25 reports on flooding: and yet no single Government Minister, Department or Agency in charge.
  • Building on flood plains: The Government's building plans and regional targets will mean even more high-density development on floodplains, many of which may be uninsurable or have exorbitant premiums. Such development should not take place unless the safety of both assets and homes can be guaranteed.
  • Urban drainage and gully cleaning: Pressures on budgets in recent years have squeezed highways budgets. In Tenbury Wells, which has been flooded three times in the last month, the River Teme needs to be studied by the Environment Agency. Harriett Baldwin wrote, " The Teme needs to be cleared of debris and the island in the river should be studied. Dredging, a flood gate and dykes ought to be some of the options reviewed to prevent another flood in the town. I have spoken to Mark Sitton-Kent from the Environment Agency about this already, but Bill Wiggin and I will be pressing them on this."
  • Emergency funding review: There must be a complete review of the "Bellwin scheme", a central fund which gives local authorities financial assistance in the aftermath of large-scale emergencies. In addition, capital sums will be needed to repair roads across Worcestershire.
  • Assistance for farmers. Many farmers have lost substantial sums and are uninsured.
  • A kick-start for tourism. Advantage West Midlands has promised money, and this is welcome. Traders will be back in business over the summer and a promotional boost would be welcome.
  • Climate change matters: The Government should make an annual statement on climate change adaptation, which would include evaluation of flood defences.

Harriett Baldwin said:

"In Worcestershire as in the rest of the country, the emergency services and local authorities have done an immense amount of work in recent weeks to tackle the problems of flooding - from major floods to small-scale incidents. But with a changing climate, we need to learn the lessons.

"There should be clearer lines of responsibility for preventing flooding; we should end the neglect of urban drainage, sewers and gullies; and we must review Whitehall's plans for reckless building on flood plains - that threaten to become the sink estates of tomorrow."

Harriett says...

Harriett Baldwin
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