Managing risk of future floods
I WOULD like to ‘thank’ Cllr Kusneraitis for his reply to my recent open letter to our local MP. It is a pity Philip Hammond did not have the courtesy to reply himself.
Cllr Kusneraitis’s point about the division of responsibilities between councils is neither meaningful nor helpful. Runnymede council is almost entirely made up of Tories – the same party that runs Surrey County Council. The county council cabinet member for highways, Cllr John Furey, also sits as a member of the borough council, which is almost farcical. Runnymede is perfectly able to provide drain clearing services directly by the same mechanism that the county council contracts services out to private companies. It is only Tory infighting that is preventing this issue being resolved. A clear argument for unitary authorities. In his patronising manner, the councillor accuses me of not understanding things but these are the facts. The chance of a catastrophic flood happening in England within the next two decades, causing in excess of £10 billion in damage, is around 10%. Yet the Tory-led government has failed to take the right decisions on managing flood risk. Runnymede has an estimated 6,734 properties at medium to very high risk of flooding but a number of recent reports are very critical of this government’s role in managing flood risk. A National Audit Office report showed that flood risk is rising, due to ‘minimal’ maintenance. A select committee reported last month that only half of the flood defences in need of urgent repair as a result of the winter floods have been completed. Media reports also suggested a secret government report showing thousands of areas along Britain’s rivers are in danger of flooding as a result of poor maintenance. There was no ‘new money’ on offer in the Autumn Statement. At best, it could be described as ‘catch up’. Philip Hammond confessed recently in the Herald that the government has still not put up all of the money required for flood alleviation. The next Labour government will reduce flood risk by reprioritising long-term flood prevention spending. Labour will establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission to identify the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs, including flood defences. I suspect that many residents would be shocked to hear of the ‘political stitch-up’ between the supposedly independent Residents’ Group and the Conservatives over flooding. Now your readers know, only Labour is serious about flood prevention in Runnymede.
ARRAN NEATHEY Labour parliamentary candidate for Runnymede & Weybridge