Sue today convened a meeting of all six Cumbrian Members of Parliament with Dr Therese Coffey MP, Minister with responsibility for flooding.
“It was an excellent opportunity for all six of us to speak with one voice and ensure that the Minister properly grasped the scale of the challenge facing flooded communities in Cumbria, and I’m grateful for all of my colleagues for attending. The meeting was non-political – we all represent communities which have been devastated by flooding, and we have all worked hard with local residents and flood action groups to make sure that we can properly represent our constituents’ concerns at the highest levels of government.
“The Minister listened closely to the case we put to her. We strongly believe that Cumbria is a Special Case, as there is nowhere else in the country quite like it in terms of the impact of flooding upon our communities. Residents and businesses across the county need substantial help to alleviate flooding and to protect properties. We believe that the government’s current funding formula does not work for Cumbria, due to the sparsity of the county’s population, which means that cost/benefit ratios do not work for us in a way that they work for urban areas. Changing the way that the funding formula is implemented could have a massively beneficial effect for Cumbria.
“Flooding has had a huge effect on healthcare in Cumbria. Not only have floods disrupted transport links between our hospitals and ambulance operations, but on the mental health of residents whose homes are at risk of flooding. This was a point that I impressed upon the Minister as an issue of significant concern, and she recognised the importance of this.
“The Minister agreed to liaise with her colleagues in both the Department for Transport, with regard to the effect of flooding on our local infrastructure, and in the Department for Communities and Local Government, on issues relating to planning and the impact of housing developments on flood plains.
“Both the Minister and the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, agreed that they would seek the input of the Cumbrian MPs into a forthcoming review of the flood funding formula, and we are to be consulted on the future flooding strategy for Cumbria, both of which are welcome. Cumbria is absolutely a Special Case when it comes to flooding, and I know we will all keep working to ensure that Government properly understands the needs of our flooded communities.”