Pledge on flooding

Chard & Ilminster News: A VAN gets stuck in flood water at Broadway during the worst of the flooding. PHOTO: Ian Goddard A VAN gets stuck in flood water at Broadway during the worst of the flooding. PHOTO: Ian Goddard

COMMUNITIES in South Somerset affected by the recent flooding are being assured that their corner is being fought at the highest levels.

The district council’s Streetscene Services Team delivered over 3,500 sandbags and self-inflating gel bags to households during and after the floods.

It was not only local authority staff who were stretched, but many emergency services personnel who worked at all hours to help people in need.

The county council has promised to help flood-hit home owners in a variety of ways under the campaign banner of ‘Fairer Funding for Somerset’, which includes demanding Government support to prevent further major floods, and it has has invited ministers and flood experts to Somerset to see the damage caused by the latest storms.

The council has also proposed to provide a £50,000 grant to help people suffering hardship after flooding at home, £200,000 in grants for flood schemes and £300,000 towards working with other agencies to dredge key rivers.

Council leader John Osman said: “Our communities deserve better, and we’ll fight to get more help from the Government.

“This council, despite its financial challenges, has put its hand in its pocket and found £300,000 for river dredging.

“We’ve also made a further £500,000 available to help victims and communities over the past 12 months.

“Now it’s time for the Government to stump up significant sums so we’re not in this position year after year.

“We want everyone to get behind Somerset County Council as we take the fight to the Government – with everyone behind it we can present a very strong case for extra investment.”

Cllr Linda Vijeh, who represents Ilminster at County Hall, backed Mr Osman’s call, saying: “We’ve been led to believe these are once in 100 years incidents, but flooding, in many cases severe, has had an impact on local communities for two years running.

“I’m delighted that Somerset County Council has, despite massive funding cuts, been able to stump up £300,000 for river dredging, and that in addition to this a further £500,000 has been made available to help victims and communities over the past 12 months.

“It is now, however, time for central Government to put their hands in their pockets, and I believe we have a very strong case for emergency funding – it’s time this Government had a less London- centric view.”

Cllr Dave Bulmer, who sits on Chard Town Council and South Somerset District Council, has written to Prime Minister David Cameron echoing the call for more Government money to be spent avoiding flood damage in future.

He wrote: “I myself was out for long hours on December 23-24 helping people whose homes were flooded.

“I was also out in Chard over the whole Christmas period clearing highway drains from debris to enable water to drain away before it entered people’s homes.

“The source of the flooding problems in Chard emanates from farmland and fields on high ground on the outskirts of our town.

“Unlike you, I don’t blame the highways authority or Somerset County Council as the lead local flood authority for this because they simply do not have the resource or manpower to carry out regular maintenance work to the gully network within Chard.

“From my point of view, doing little or nothing in the eyes of people like me and other communities is not an option – this matter is far too important to ignore.”

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