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'Never an excuse for abuse' after Wraysbury claims

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said "there is never an excuse for verbal abuse" after reports that Environment Agency staff were criticised by people in Wraysbury.

The flooding will be extremely stressful for all involved, but there is never an excuse for verbal abuse.

Ministers have publicly praised the hard work of the on-the-ground Environment Agency staff in challenging times.

– A Department for Communities and Local Government spokeswoman

EA denies pulling out staff from Wraysbury after 'abuse'

The Environment Agency (EA) has denied that it is pulling staff out of flood-hit Wraysbury after reports they suffered abuse from members of the community.

Residents pull a boat through flooding in Wraysbury, Berkshire, yesterday. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

David Murphy, an EA flood risk manager, was asked by ITV News' Lewis Vaughan Jones whether the agency was removing staff from the area and he replied: "Not at all, we are here."

When asked about the rumours that staff had been abused by members of the community, Mr Murphy replied: "If that has happened, it was an isolated incident...if it happened."

He added: "We are working with the community and with the emergency services to provide advice and help."


Union blames Pickles for 'hostility' suffered by staff

The hostility from residents in flood-hit Wraysbury is a direct result of the irresponsible attack by Eric Pickles and others on the Environment Agency, the GMB union have claimed.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer for the Environment Agency (EA) said:

This report of hostility from the residents on the Thames is a direct result of the irresponsible attack by Eric Pickles and others on the EA.

His incitement has led to the very people on the frontline who are actually helping to alleviate the situation bearing the brunt of people's frustrations.

For more than seven weeks since Christmas the Environment Agency's staff have been run ragged helping and supporting the victims of flooding.

GMB members have been working double and triple shifts around the clock to protect and assist.

It is noted by these staffs that the Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to say the proposed cut of another 1,700 jobs at the EA will be reversed.

Ms Bowden said the Government must immediately reverse the "ludicrous cut" of 1,700 EA jobs and review funding to ensure the budget could cope with flooding and drought.

GMB union chief and Miliband to meet tomorrow

GMB union general secretary Paul Kenny and Ed Miliband are due to meet tomorrow in a meeting planned before today's decision to cut funding to Labour by £1 million.

A union source said its was made out of sorrow rather than in anger.

However, according to ITV News political correspondent Carl Dinnen, there are those in the Labour Party who thought it was a deliberate snub ahead of tomorrow's meeting:


Alan Johnson warns against 'petty retribution'

Former home secretary Alan Johnson - an ex-union leader - warned against "petty retribution" in the wake of Ed Miliband's party reform pledge.

"We can no longer go on living the lie with these millions of people signed up as levy-paying members to the Labour Party, and treated as if they were members," Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.

Labour's Alan Johnson used to be general secretary of the Communication Workers Union. Credit: Jeff Moore/Jeff Moore/Empics Entertainment

"I call them the ghosts in the machine. That is bad for the party, it is bad for the trade unions."

The former Communication Workers Union chief added, "I just hope this is not a piece of petty retribution by a trade union."

Labour given 'more than a few hours notice' of decision

A senior Labour source said the party had been given "more than a few hours" notice of the GMB's decision to reduce its funding, and was not aware of any other unions planning similar moves.

Labour leader Ed Miliband will not be deterred from his plans to "mend not end" Labour's financial links with the unions, the unnamed source added.

The GMB union announced it is cutting its funding to the Labour Party from £1.2 million to £150,000. Credit: PA Wire

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "Nothing has changed. The union barons can still rig Labour's candidate selections, buy Labour's policies and pick Labour's leader.

"If Ed Miliband is too weak to stand up to his union bosses, he will be too weak to stand up for hardworking people."

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