A further flood funding boost of £500,000 has been proposed for river dredging by Somerset County Council yesterday, and it brings the total proposed by the council to £1m.
The Council is planning to up its offer of £300,000 for dredging, and £200,000 for local flood prevention schemes, to a total of £1m – with a rallying call for Government and the Environment Agency to dig into their own pockets and find the further £3m needed to enable a comprehensive dredging operation for the Rivers Parrett and Tone.
The offer came as leading councillors and officers held a crisis meeting with Dan Rogerson – Minister for Water and Rural Affairs. Also invited were MPs, the Environment Agency and representatives of other councils and voluntary groups.
“This extra funding, at a time of extremely challenging finances for the Council, is a clear indication of how determined we are to stand up for residents and small businesses who have been devastated by flooding, not once, but twice in just over a year,” said Council Leader John Osman.
“The Minister listened to our case – which I feel is very strong – and saw for himself the extent of the flooding. He has promised to take up our case and we have agreed to a further meeting in Whitehall to continue to fight for significant investment. He agrees that Somerset has had two years of severe flooding which puts it ahead of any other claims for help and support.”
The county council has taken a lead in campaigning for significant investment in flood prevention and has written to all Somerset’s MPs as well as other councils and agencies asking for backing for its “Fair Funding for Somerset” campaign.
“It is important we are all on the same side to have the best chance of success,” said Cllr Osman. “This is about working together to help people pick up their lives once the flood waters recede. At the moment we have a community at Muchelney completely cut off, we have a main road impassable through the middle of the county, we have a damaged road bridge, we have thousands of acres of farmland under water – all this means we have many, many people and businesses whose lives are being ruined. We must get the government to act and to act quickly.”
Press Release, January 16, 2014