Man­ag­ing risk of fu­ture floods

Surrey Herald/News - - LETTERS -

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

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