MPs: Winter floods could devastate again if cuts not reversed

MPs have warned that maintaining flood protection for communities should take priority over cost-cutting, to prevent a repeat of the devastation caused by the winter floods.

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Village agent will help victims of Somerset floods

Nicola Bailey will help Somerset businesses affected by flooding Credit: CCS

Flood hit businesses in Somerset are to get extra help from the Community Council for Somerset.

The CCS has appointed Nicola Bailey as its new Somerset Business Village Agent to support flood affected businesses in the aftermath of the Somerset flooding crisis.

The role has been funded for an initial 12 month period by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Somerset County Council and South Somerset District Council.

The role uses the tried and tested Village Agent model of a local person with specific empathy for the challenges faced by rural businesses and communities. It has been reported that an average of £17,352 per business being lost in financial terms and productivity in just six weeks of the flooding.

This support could range from simply being a confidential sounding board through to providing practical and ongoing help to get your business back on its feet.

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MPs: 'Ministers must take action now' over flooding

MPs have welcomed £270 million extra funding for tackling flooding that has been announced by the Government this year, but said £130 million of that had been reallocated from elsewhere in the Environment Department's budget, rather than being additional.

We have repeatedly called on the Government to increase revenue funding so that necessary dredging and watercourse maintenance can be carried out to minimise flood risk, yet funding for maintenance remains at a bare minimum.

Ministers must take action now to avoid a repeat of the devastation caused by the winter floods.

The Government needs to recognise the importance of regular maintenance work and put it on an equal footing with building new defences.

– Committee's chairwoman Anne McIntosh

Overall funding did not reflect the increased flood risk the country faced. Funding for maintenance work - a "Cinderella" area - needs to keep pace with the growing risk caused by more frequent extreme weather events and to look after an increasing number of flood defences being built, the MPs said.

They urged the Environment Department (Defra) to draw up fully-funded plans to address the current backlog of maintenance work, including routine dredging, as well as to maintain the growing numbers of man-made flood defences.

Regular dredging must continue in Somerset say DEFRA committee

An influential committee of MPs says regular dredging of rivers on the Somerset Levels must continue if we're to avoid a repeat of last winter's floods.

The cross-party DEFRA select committee says regular maintenance is essential to protect homes, businesses and farmland. It says dredging is as important as building new defences, and calls for greater powers for local water boards.

MP Anne McIntosh, who chairs the committee, says the government should rely on local knowledge of people living on the Levels.

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