“Chancellor has key questions to answer on flooding”- Farron

York flooding 2Tim Farron has written to George Osborne to ask him to provide additional funds to help repair flood-hit infrastructure. He also had some fairly pithy comments about David Cameron’s visit to the north, inviting him to do more than parade around in wellies.

He said:

The Government’s approach to flood defences is short-sighted.

In 2012 I said more funding was needed to deal with the torrential rain and ‘freak’ weather that was becoming more prevalent.

In the years since I have repeated that call and do so again today. We need to urgently review every shelved flood defence scheme.

The Prime Minister pulling on his wellies, wading through some water for a photo op and doing a couple of interviews doe not make people believe he is doing enough.

He needs to show he cares about the North by following up his words with deeds.

The full text of Tim’s letter is here:

Dear George,

I am writing to you from a flooded Cumbria where, like vast swathes of the north, hundreds of homes have been damaged, family Christmas’ ruined, and lives put on hold by uncertainty and fear.

As a Cumbrian MP and seeing my community deal with the flooding I want to pay tribute to the emergency services, the army, the Environment Agency and the hundreds of charities, churches and organisations who have gone above and beyond to help.

I also want to pay tribute to the people in my constituency and the surrounding areas who have pulled together to support one another in ways which are genuinely heart-warming and inspiring. Moments like this show us the importance of strong communities, and many people have gone the extra mile to help their neighbours.

I am asking on behalf of all those affected by the flooding for three things:

1. To match fund the Flood Appeals for people in need in Lancashire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester in the same way that you have agreed to match fund the Cumbria Foundation’s Flood Appeal up to £2 million.

2. To provide a date on when we will hear about the review of flood defence projects and to guarantee additional funding for repairing infrastructure in the affected areas. The initial £50 million fund is only ten percent of the cost of flood damage of Storm Desmond according to PricewaterhouseCoopers and further investment is vital.

3. To extend the scope of the National Infrastructure Commission and ask it to report on how the UK can best be protected from floods in the long-term.

Finally, can I ask you to take any opportunities you can to remind the British public that Cumbria and other areas are still open for business and visitors are very welcome.

Best wishes,

Tim Farron

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34 Comments

  • I think Danny Alexander has some questions to answer. How involved was he in cutting the Labour-planned defences, when the coalition came to power? It was the Treasury that cut them and he was Chief Secretary at the time.

  • “He also had some fairly pithy comments about David Cameron’s visit to the north”

    More lamentable stuff from Farron, criticising Cameron for doing the same sort of “photo-opps” he was doing himself just the other week, before he disappeared for his Christmas holidays.

  • The silence from Danny Alexander is deafening.

    Just over a year ago he was trumpeting a scheme of works which did nothing for York or for Cumbria – despite the fact that detailed schemes had been worked out and costed for both places in 2009 after the Pitt report. The proposals were dropped when the Coalition came to power.

    In December 2014, the then Mr Alexander stated : “The projects we are announcing today will protect some of the country’s most at-risk locations ensuring that we will be as prepared as possible for future severe weather.”

    At the time, Professor Richard Ashley, from Sheffield University, who advised a government inquiry into floods, said ministers were using “smoke and mirrors” to portray their plans. He referred to the fact that more money was being spent between 2011-15 and said the announcement was only “bringing some sort of stability”. (Guardian 4 December, 2014)

    Now over the last three weeks I have had to help a 90 year old relative in Appleby and a younger family member in York. What I have seen andexperienced cannot be brushed under the carpet. What happened is one of the prices we have had to pay for the Austerity cuts introduced by the Clegg/Cameron Coalition under the stewardship of, amongst others, the now Sir Daniel Alexander..

    Where are you, Danny ? Time to speak up and justify yourself or to apologise !!! You’ve got questions to answer now. The ducks – not the chickens – are coming home to roost.

    David Raw – (a Liberal since 1961)

  • David Allen 30th Dec '15 - 4:34pm

    Stuart, every politician does photo-ops, what Farron said was that it shouldn’t end there.

    And yes, it’s easier to say that from opposition than from government, but that does not make it a “lamentable” thing to say.

  • @David Allen
    Farron is wrong though:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35188598

  • Dave Orbison 30th Dec '15 - 5:20pm

    David Raw – well said. Good luck with the clean up operation.

    Simon – Really can’t you do better than that? Shame on you.

  • @ Simon Shaw Perhaps Councillor Shaw could tell us which bit of the stated facts he doesn’t agree with and why ?

    @ Dave Orbison Thank you. I’m sure I could find a place for my broom handle.

  • David Raw 30th Dec ’15 – 5:36pm……………@ Dave Orbison Thank you. I’m sure I could find a place for my broom handle……..

    OUCH!…..I can feel Simon Shaw’s wince from here…

  • David Allen 30th Dec '15 - 6:54pm

    Stuart,

    Your link does say that Cameron has promised an extra £280m, but this one:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35196493

    merely says “more than £100m”.

    When a government is being ambiguous about how much it promises to spend, it’s generally best to take the lowest stated figure as an upper limit on what will actually be spent. It all looks pretty small beer compared with the established previous level of expenditure, shown by the trustworthy Guardian as around £600-700m per year (see Simon Shaw’s link above).

    It’s even smaller beer compared with the cost of these floods (£1.5bn? £5bn?) to those affected!

  • @ Simon Shaw……………….

    Just suppose……..you knew who was the Government spokesman responsible for announcing capital flood relief schemes

    ……. that this same spokesman had cancelled two published flood relief schemes in the two places where you had relatives (one a frail 90 year old – another with a small toddler)

    ………. that you had spent three days mopping up and washing filth out of their homes (homes – not just houses)

    ………. that you had driven 200 miles each way in hazardous conditions at Christmas to do so

    ………. that you had seen wrapped lovingly bought Christmas presents ruined

    ………..You might….. just might…..be a little upset and angry and feel a tad let down….

    But maybe you, Councillor Shaw, wouldn’t ……….. because he was “a fellow Liberal Democrat” – and anyway, as you say, The Guardian tells lies ?

    …………..Come off it.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Dec '15 - 11:45pm

    Please also plant trees on upland slopes. Do not be narrow minded about profit and loss, allow something for other effects. Forests can be popular, as DC found when he consulted on privatisation of forests.

  • @Richard Underhill:- Do you mean the Vital Uplands initiative that Natural England wanted to proceed with? The one the Tim Farron was delighted go scrapped? The one where he is quoted as saying:

    “delighted that Natural England are readjusting their approach to the uplands, with the recent dropping of their Uplands Vision”

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/07/hide-evidence-storm-desmond-floods-paris-talks

  • I believe we have a lot to learn from our forefathers….

    Those like ‘Pete Marsh’ show that, in times of disaster, leaders were ritually killed to bring on the good times….

    Just a thought….

    BTW..Caron, It’s not meant seriously

  • “Apart from constructing one or more Lake Clywedog https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clywedog_Reservoir equivalents in the Upper Eden Valley catchment areas, what exactly would you want to see done to protect Appleby?”

    Perhaps you should be directing that question at Tim Farron, since he’s attacking Cameron for not doing enough.

  • Denis Loretto 31st Dec '15 - 1:17pm

    I for one am fed up with LDV being used to continue the internal Lib Dem squabbles which sullied our involvement in the coalition. Why don’t we see some support for our doughty MEP Catherine Bearder who has quite rightly attacked the government for failing to apply for available EU financial help for the flooding crisis, presumably because this would annoy Tory eurosceptics. Reported in the Guardian yesterday – “[Rory] Stewart found himself accused of failing to apply for millions of pounds of EU money, after telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the government was “open-minded” about asking for money, but warning that it would take up to eight months and would not help those in immediate need. Catherine Bearder, the Liberal Democrat MEP for south-east England, said she had held a meeting with EU officials, who had reassured her that the UK government could apply for £125m in grants, 10% of which could have been available within six weeks.
    “It is baffling that the government has still not applied for EU solidarity funding,” she said. “Millions of pounds could be made available within weeks to help pay for cleanup costs and the rebuilding of vital infrastructure. The Conservatives must not deprive flood-hit communities of desperately needed funds.”
    Bearder had met with the EU commissioner Corina Creţu on 17 December to discuss flood damage aid from the EU solidarity fund. Creţu had confirmed that the UK was eligible for the funding and that she was surprised no application had yet been made, Bearder said. The fund, with a budget of up to £359m a year, was set up to provide financial assistance to EU countries struck by major natural disasters.

  • @Simon Shaw
    “Does that mean that you have no idea what you would like to see done?”

    Funnily enough, not being a DEFRA civil engineer, and not living anywhere near a flood zone, and not being much interested in the Lakeland water management infrastructure, the answer to your question is yes, I have no idea what should be done.

    How about you? You attacked David Raw for suggesting that more should be done, but then praised Tim Farron for saying that, er, more should be done, so I’m unclear about whether you think more should be done or not.

  • @Simon Shaw
    “And if I ‘praised’ Tim it was for calling on the Government ‘to extend the scope of the National Infrastructure Commission and ask it to report on how the UK can best be protected from floods in the long-term.’ That seems to me to be what we need.”

    The last Labour government already commissioned just such a report. It was known as the Pitt report and was published in June 2008 :-

    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100807034701/http://archive.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/pittreview/_/media/assets/www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/flooding_review/pitt_review_full%20pdf.pdf

    One of its conclusions was that long-term above-inflation increases in spending on flood defences would be necessary. Even before the report was published, Labour announced large spending increases for 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11.

    The coalition of which Tim Farron’s party was part threw the Pitt report in the bin and slashed spending on flood defences. As you know from the various Guardian articles linked to in the other thread, plenty of people at the time (Autumn 2010) told the government that this was the wrong thing to do.

  • @ Stuart You’re quite right, Stuart, though all you can expect to get is another question..

    The question “Apart from constructing one or more Lake Clywedog in the Upper Eden Valley catchment areas, what exactly would you want to see done to protect Appleby?” is pretty empty.

    As a former Councillor for the Upper Eden I can tell you there is/ was a Scheme for Appleby which your friend in Southport chooses to ignore. Written 2009 Ditched 2010/11 in first Coalition Budget : Details below :

    PDF]Eden Catchment Flood Management Plan – Gov.uk
    https://www.gov.uk/…/Eden_Catchment_Flood_Management_Plan.pdf

  • Here we go again – selective quotes from the summary document – no attempt to research the main document. . Would do credit to a slippery Turkish Oil wrestler.

    Stand by every word. No more. End of conversation. Enjoy the New Year if you can and keep your hedges well clipped..

  • Stuart “The coalition of which Tim Farron’s party was part threw the Pitt report in the bin and slashed spending on flood defences. As you know from the various Guardian articles linked to in the other thread, plenty of people at the time (Autumn 2010) told the government that this was the wrong thing to do.”

    Yes I remember this happening and thinking of the poor victims of floods, sadly let down by the last government.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Jan '16 - 9:51am

    @Simon Shaw “the Coalition Government actually spent MORE in real terms in the three LOWEST spending years (i.e. 2011/12 to 2013/14) than the Labour Government did in the 3 years 2005/06 to 2007/08 (£1831.7m v £1821.7m)”

    You seem to be acknowledging that Labour learnt that more needed to be spent and did so, and then the coalition reversed this.
    When Labour began to increase spending significantly (c.2007), many thought they should spend even more, including the Lib Dems (“The Liberal Democrats today pledged to increase flood defence spending to £1bn a year by 2010.” http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2007/sep/20/libdem2007.uk).
    Lib Dems need to take care that this does not look like another issue on which they appear to flip-flop.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Jan '16 - 11:56am

    refitman 31st Dec ’15 – 8:41am I have not seen Tim Farron’s comments on this but can speculate on two possibles:
    1) Upland farmers are making moderate, or low, incomes as reported by BBC Countryfile, mainly using hardy Herdwick sheep, with a regrettably low wool value;
    https://uk.images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=A7x9UndECYlWQAkAWGp3Bwx.;_ylu=X3oDMTBsYWhiN2NvBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2lyMgR2dGlkAw–?_adv_prop=image&fr=yhs-avg-fh_lsonsw&va=herdwick&hspart=avg&hsimp=yhs-fh_lsonsw
    2) local people in the tourist industry think that their customers like the way the uplands are now, which is bald.

    I have two sources
    1) an enviremental conference in India attended by an LI delegation led by Jim Wallace MP in 1988. The ground is steeper in the north, and the rainfall is heavier. We were told it is essential to maintain forest cover. The sponge effect is caused partly by the tree roots and partly by the branches and leaves:
    2) a biography of the UK Forestry Commission (since returned to the public library). They also have trees that can be grown in Orkney and Shetand, initially Horizontalis, but growing upwards when established, although not commercial for timber that far north.

  • This article and the previous one ( https://www.libdemvoice.org/york-floods-as-the-clean-up-commences-questions-must-be-asked-48784.html ) make a fatal assumption, which many in the ir comments also make, namely: that if central government threw money at flood prevention and hence enabled all the various flood prevention schemes to go ahead that somehow this would of prevented the flooding we have seen; it wouldn’t!

    At best in some areas further measures would of reduced the extent of flooding and duration of flooding, but because of the record levels rainfall and rises in river levels well beyond previous maximums and the allowance made for the effects of climate change, many areas such as the centre of Carlisle would still have been flooded.

    I think the Libdems also have questions to answer, was committing to increased levels of foreign aid really more important than domestic spending? Also it is worth remembering that when the coalition came to power in 2010 the debts inherited from Labour were “eye watering” and the Chancellor’s 2015 autumn statement clearly indicates the existing debts are only just manageable and there is a lot of infrastructure expenditure to be incurred over the coming decade…

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