Flood victims' plight spurs calls for government cash
HOUSEHOLDERS in Plymouth left desperate after being repeatedly hit by floods have sparked calls for extra cash to be spent on prevention schemes.
Conservative MP for South West Devon Gary Streeter highlighted the plight of constituents as he tackled the Government over funding for flood defences.
But ministers said £2.3billion is already being spent on safeguarding communities against flooding.
The Government has come under fire from critics over cuts to spending for flood defences, leading to accusations it was playing "Russian roulette" with people's homes and businesses.
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During Environment Questions in the House of Commons, Mr Streeter said: "Six communities in my constituency were flooded three times in 2012 – in July, November and December – and people there are naturally desperate about what to do.
"I realise that there is no money, because of our high-spending predecessors, but can the minister find any extra resources to put into flood defence and prevention schemes to help my constituents cope with what may happen in the future?"
Responding Floods Minister Richard Benyon said: "I am glad to inform him that we are spending a lot of money – £2.3billion of taxpayers' money – on what the Government should be doing, which is building flood defences.
"In addition, we are looking carefully to ensure that we are supporting all the relevant agencies, such as the Environment Agency, to ensure that watercourses are flowing and that we are addressing all the factors that contribute to flooding.
"I entirely understand the desperation that his constituents must feel as a result of repeat flooding events, and we are working hard to deal with those."
The minister also revealed he would shortly be visiting the constituency of Tory MP for South East Cornwall Sheryll Murray, whose constituency had been badly hit by flooding.
Mr Benyon told her: "I am coming down to see for myself the issues in her constituency in the near future."
He added: "We are better prepared for flooding events than ever before, but that does not mean we are in any way complacent. We learn from every flooding event, and I assure her and her constituents that we will learn and that if improvements can be made, they will be made."