March 14 2014 Latest news:
Friday, December 20, 2013
Waveney MP Peter Aldous called for the government to spell out what it is doing to get flood-hit communities “back on their feet”, and for assurances that all the clean-up costs will be recovered.
During a debate in the House of Commons the Tory backbencher raised concerns that Whitehall policies for dealing with floods had not been devised with coastal communities in mind.
He said the region had “escaped by the skin of its teeth”, but the floods had still had a “devastating impact” on many coastal communities.
He also claimed that there was a strong sense that the “narrowly averted national crisis” had not been properly considered in parliament.
In the days after the floods environment secretary Owen Paterson said the government would be discussing with every local authority area affected what further help they need to ensure places can quickly get back on their feet.
But Mr Aldous said he wanted an update as to how the discussions had gone and what further help was being provided and assurances that all clean up costs will be recovered. “Many have seen their homes destroyed whilst with others they have been seriously damaged and they will not be able to return home for many months. People have lost their possessions built up over a lifetime,” he said. He said the Pitt Review, which was set up by the last government after storms in 2007, had deficiencies as it did not address coastal flooding and erosion, and placed “too limited a recognition on the protection of the economy”. He also highlighted the concerns of councils that the Bellwin Scheme - through which they can claim immediate costs incurred in the storm surge - was no longer “fit for purpose”, claiming that it would not be able to achieve the objective of getting places quickly back on their feet. Answering the debate junior minister for resource management Dan Rogerson said that many of the concerns about help for councils would have to be passed on to the Department for Communities and Local Government, which is responsible for the Bellwin Scheme, and said there were always “lessons to be learnt” from events such as this month’s floods.Mr Aldous also warned that such events might make it more difficult to attract inward investment and create new jobs.
He added: “There is the opportunity to attract considerable investment to the town particularly in the oil and gas and offshore renewables sectors and the inclusion today of this part of Lowestoft in the draft Assisted Area Map will help in this respect. “However, businesses will think very carefully before making such commitments unless adequate flood defences are in place.”
“In what is the season of goodwill we owe it to those many people whose lives have been turned upside down this Christmas to provide an undertaking that their needs will not be forgotten,” he added.