Yesterday, during a debate on flooding which took place in the House of Commons, Rachael Maskell MP seized the opportunity to challenge the Secretary of State for the Environment, Theresa Villiers, about the Government’s failure to tackle issues such as insurance, upper catchment management and flood resilience and Ms Maskell invited the Minister to come to York to see the flooding problems for herself.
The exchange is shown below:
- Rachael Maskell MP:
Promises broken and programmes undelivered: tomorrow morning at five o’clock the River Ouse is likely to rise to the same level as under Storm Desmond, yet we have seen a lack of delivery on issues such as insurance, upper catchment management and even putting in resilience in the city itself. Will the Secretary of State not only expedite action but meet me to discuss the threats that flooding causes my constituents in York?
- Theresa Villiers:
I will be very happy to meet the hon. Lady. The situation in relation to the Ouse is indeed still very serious, but I reassure her that significant numbers of flood defences have been built over recent years. As I said in my opening statement, we fully recognise that there is more to do, particularly as the climate is changing and extreme weather events become more common, but a huge amount of effort has gone into delivering flood defences, and more is on the way.
Afterwards, Rachael Maskell MP said:
“Today people have been anxiously waiting for the River Ouse to reach it’s peak. In the city centre, Skeldergate has been closed by flooding and many riverside properties, such as the Kings Arms and other pubs and restaurants on Kings Staith are surrounded by flood water once again. Whilst it appears the city has escaped major damage by the skin of its teeth this time round, I am not convinced that enough has been done to prevent a catastrophe such as the Boxing Day floods happening again. It is no joke for people when their homes are flooded and their belongings destroyed. Some people have to move out of their homes and cannot return for many months. Others cannot get the insurance they need to protect themselves.
“We need to do more to prevent this happening again and this week’s floods show that York is still ill prepared when it comes to flooding. I want Theresa Villiers to come to York and see some of the problems for herself. She needs to meet the people who live in fear of their homes flooding and answer to them.”