12/02/2014 Newsnight


Jeremy Paxman presents a Newsnight special on the floods crisis, live from the Thames Valley.

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Hello from the backroom of the George pub in the village of


Wraysbury on the not so lovely banks of the River Thames, or where the


banks used to be. The boxer Henry Cooper used to train in this room,


apparently. Tonight, we've filled it with some of the people who've felt


the consequences of the wettest bit of weather for a couple of hundred


years. Facing them, the Cabinet Minister, Philip Hammond. People


here have discovered to their cost what living on a flood plain can


mean and how very fragile are many of the assumptions on which modern


life is based. What you really notice is how some houses have


escaped almost unscathed and others are perhaps less well designed and


have seen the floodwater warning in. -- pouring in. The Prime Minister


has chosen to make this a test of his government, although he


discovered today that putting flesh on bones is much more complicated


than merely making promises. When you say money is no object, are you


setting yourself up as a hostage to fortune? At what stage do you save


the tap has to be turned off? -- say. This is the highest point in


the village, an island of dryness surrounded by wetness. Apart from a


bit of aircraft noise, which you might hear a little of, it's


normally a quiet enough place. Lots of people work at Heathrow so it's


an occupational hazard. It's not stockbroker belt but is part of a


constituency which has sent a Conservative MP to Westminster since


Benjamin Disraeli was Tory leader. David Cameron has made helping those


afflicted by what in earlier times was considered an act of God a test


of his government. Here in the bar, a few of the locals. With me are two


of the flood wardens. What is a moot? We are elated we have got the


military in, it was very emotional and frustrating. This sounds like


the contradiction. We are elated we have the military. And frustrated at


the flooding. I saw the flood warnings on the ground but we have


the military and the police in and everybody else to help. We have


always been on our own. 2003, totally on our own with no support


or back-up. We had a little bit of help. You are quite impressed by the


government? They are great, aren't they? Not! Thank you very much. We


are here because David Cameron has made this an issue on which his


government will be judged. His words were that money would be no object.


As Emily Maitlis reports, easier said than done. It has been called


an almost on map -- unparalleled crisis. Not the kind of language we


normally used to describe Britain. When you add the hundreds rescued


from home county Surrey, many more have been told not to step outside


and you realise this is uncharted water and that means throwing


whatever you can at it to make it. -- make it better. The first


question tonight is, the Prime Minister announced that what would


be no object? Money is no object in this relief effort. That is right,


money. OK, this time, when asked about future spending, the transport


Secretary says he does not think it is a blank cheque? That is right,


the word is blank. Today, a certain degree of confusion about what Terry


Wogan might once have called the cheque-book and ten. Something


exploited by the Labour leader in the Commons as he forged the PM to


address forthcoming redundancies of the Environment Agency. Giving


yesterday 's promise to make sure we have a resilient country for the


future and spend whatever it takes, busy committing to reconsidering


these redundancies and the amount of money we invest in flood defences?


No clarity on that one from David Cameron but then Labour stands


accused of making cuts to flood investment when it was in power. No


political party will pick a fight about money for flood victims at a


time when the country is in a national emergency to do so -- to do


so would be suicide. But the heart of these exchanges asks a bigger


question is how much will political priorities change going forward when


the watcher receives and the sun comes out? Will still be the same


financial commitment to making Britain more resilient for the next


time around? -- watcher receives. These scenes are to familiar in our


homes. Communities already feeling they could not take any more have


been tipped over the edge by more rain. There are ways around this but


at what cost? The Environment Agency talks of a lower tens strategy,


prevention to cover 21,000 homes. But this option is expensive and


some ?500 million, a plan for the next century and a relatively short


span of actual river. That is just the money. We need conviction. Six


months ago the Conservative Environment Secretary claimed they


could even be benefits to global warming. He suggested fewer people


would die of cold in winter, more crops would grow in the North. Food


for thought for David Cameron, whose slogan once boasted of old blue and


go green. This represents a strand of the community -- Conservative


Party which has been to deny that climate change has had a big impact


on Britain and this will make a lot of people in the Conservative Party


and others think again. And I think for people like the Lib Dems, who


have been more consistent in standing up and talking about how we


must take action. The relief measures or a solid start. If


?500,000 repair grant for all affected homeowners and businesses.


100 present business rate relief for three months and three months longer


to pick as Ms taxes. ?10 million for farmers suffering from waterlogged


fields and more than ?750 million from major banks to lend financial


support to businesses and customers affected. But there are still plenty


of confusion surrounding the future protection of homes and who gets it.


The legislation currently going through the Lords would take away


the safety blanket currently offered to small businesses. That is the


automatic renewal of insurance policies if they are on flood


events. The new system, it would not extend to anything deemed a


commercial interest. That means a village pub or a bed and breakfast


would not get cover. Even if it was your home. Every lifeline thrown


there are other voices, inevitably complaining that money is not going


to them. Last week it was historically, this week we are being


told the country is wealthy again. National optimism might be in short


supply right now but talk of prosperity can make people bold and


bold people ask for more. Herbs the PM or at least as Chancellor might


be wishing he had kept the cheque-book under wraps. With us to


discuss this is an audience of locals, experts, voices from here


and beyond and the Defence Secretary. Just before we talk, can


we hear a couple of voices from the audience. What do you think of the


way this has been handled so far? It has been handled reasonably well by


the government, the Environment Agency have handled this very badly.


In the village, they brought in 200 soldiers and sailors and build a


sandbag wall up to the wire fence so the water ran around. I do not think


the Environment Agency has been at all confident. Leaving aside the


question of the army coming in, which was a recent intervention, up


to that point, who he was impressed by the way this has been handled?


Nobody? Hannah, where you impressed? You are not local but you are under


30? I was impressed with the way the event was forecasted and the


Environment Agency did an excellent job. That is important, being


prepared. There are things that need to be adjusted, should this happen


again. Some people are unhappy here. Phillip Hammond, are you proud of


the way this has been handled? We can always learn lessons. I think my


observation is what people in this particular community feel


particularly aggrieved about is that other communities along the river


appear to have been treated in a different way and that is something


we have to understand the reasons for. Is that true? And gentleman


talked about sandbagging that took place and I am no expert but I am


told there are a difference is around the topography that make it


work in some places and not in others. What were the mistakes? In


the fullness of time we will want to look at how things were done and


where they could have been done better so we can learn. I cannot sit


here in the middle of a crisis and say... Yes, you can. You have got


things in mind. In the fullness of time, we should look at what was


done, where and we should analyse those decisions. I am being told


that the reason the work was done in Dachett on Monday and not here was


simply due to the topography and the practical effect that could be


delivered. I am not an expert, I cannot validate that statement but


in time, people who are experts will want to look at these assessments


and decide if they were right or wrong. Can you help us with some


other things? Eric Pickles. One day he says that he got bad advice from


the Environment Agency and the next he says he is full of confidence? Is


he just forgetting things? The time right now is not the time for


stirring up fights in different agencies and organisations. We all


have to pull together. I am worried about Eric Pickles. In due course


will be a proper time for analysing the advice given and indeed the


policy positions that were adopted. For example, around dredging. We


will want to look at those and form a view about whether the advice and


the policies were right or wrong. I am worried about his recollection,


that is all. You might be but what I say is that I do not think this is


the right time to be stirring up disputes in different agencies. He


is the one who said he got bad advice. The strong message I got


here was that people wanted all of the agencies to pull together any


same direction and get things done. Let's look at the question of money.


The Prime Minister says it is not a problem. Does that mean there is new


money? It means that in responding to this crisis, we will not allow


ourselves to be constrained by resources. So the manpower is


available and the money is available. There will not be any


thing that is needed that cannot be provided because of money or


manpower. Where is it coming from? Local authorities will have access


to 100 present compensation, paid from the Treasury reserve. The


military forces that have been made available are available to


commanders and local authorities and the Treasury reserve will pick up


these costs. We do not want anybody saying we cannot deal with this


problem, we cannot respond because we do not have enough money or


manpower. There is enough money? And manpower, to respond to the crisis.


Clearly, Ed Miliband talking about this in prime ministers questions,


that does not mean that forever the government will spend any amount of


money watch in this crisis and in responding... Resources will not be


the constrained. But this is after the event? The event is very much


going on now. You will spend this money clearing up an event that in


many cases could have been... It is important that local authorities and


the emergency services know that whatever they spend on whether it is


mature real and equipment or on overtime or whatever they spend,


they will get reimbursed by the government. They can forget that


particular issue. Lots of people would like to have a say. Philip,


let us start with you. I am grateful that Philip came to the village


yesterday. It seems a very long time ago. And we were lucky that a group


of concerned residents told us we needed the army. We have been told


on Sunday that we were going to have floods similar to 1947 and luckily,


the Flood warden had told us that they had a meeting and we could tell


residents they had to evacuate houses and for 48 hours, this


village was on its own and luckily they told us the problem and we have


the army within three hours. Up to that point, the first rescue service


we had was the RSPCA! Are you serious? Yes. They were the first


people here. And they rescued people, as well as animals. But


since then, the army has turned up en masse. And the Fire Brigade. And


we have got 100 soldiers in the village. Why are you laughing at the


mention that the EA turned up? In mass. We had seen one the day


before. The intervention was too late? Yes. Far too late. Tell us,


what do you mean? Five weeks' ago, we started our campaign. I was on


the BBC News five weeks' ago saying we have a problem here, we need


help. What was the problem you were identifying? We started off with our


drains filling up which we knew then that the water level in the ground


was rising and after that happened, four days later the floods came in.


We've had no main drainage for five-and-a-half weeks now. What's it


been like trying to live through that? Difficult. Hell. Hell? Why,


tell me why? Go on? We started off on our own, a small team of six of


us. Whilst we were picking up on your point about defences in


Datchit, whilst six to eight volunteers were risking their lives


because there was no-one supporting our village, you are building a


sandbag bank with half the military on a dry grass verge in Datchit half


a mile away. We had no resource whatsoever in our village. That was


even after we went on to severe flood warning. We had to boar retwo


-- borrow two boats. Who supplied these plastic boats? Residents. No,


but... Residents here have done so much. So much. Dave - well, I pass


over to you - but you have been brilliant. Sue is... These people


are jolly cross? Yes, there are a couple of things that have come out


of this. My constituency is in the opposite side of the riverbank, so


all the problems being talked about here are being experienced on the


other side of the river. This is not just happened in February. This has


been going on since January. People who live along the river know and


understand the way the river works and the way the ground water systems


work better than anybody. So, yeah, people - we need to listen more


clearly to the people who live along the river. That's one of the


mistakes you made? That's one of the consistent messages that comes


through. The people... The Environment Agency are funding the


Jubilee River on to a gravel rail embankment and that is the reason


Datchit floods? People know how the river works. I have known that for


the 17 years that I have represented the constituency on the other bank.


That's the first thing. The second thing - I must say this - when I


came into the village yesterday morning, there were a significant


number of police in the village, there was a Bronze Command operating


in the school. It isn't quite true to say that at 8.00am yesterday


there was nothing here. It may not have been as much as you would like,


but there were things here yesterday morning, there were police vehicles,


there were officers, there were Fire Brigade vehicles. Do you not think


they were here because they knew you were coming here? You cynic! I wish


I had that power. Go on? One police officer had wellingtons. They are


not equipped. I have worn these for five weeks and they are very sexy!


They are! Why am I leading a team for four days without any resources


waist-deep rescuing pensioners in stupid dinghies, whilst you are


building a sandbag bank? You shouldn't be. Let me be quite clear


about this. The military response to requests from the local authorities


and the emergency services. They are in the lead. That's the way we work


in this country. We've made military personnel available, military


equipment available, but we colonel make it available. The civilian lead


authorities have to ask for it. And have to direct it with the tasks


that they want. I find it strange that you can predict now what is


going to happen in seven days' time? Whilst our guys are three-foot deep


in water rescuing, there was no predictions at all. You should have


known what was going to happen as our leaders and got the military in


prior to, instead of risking our lives? We did know what was going to


happen. So why didn't you respond? We did know. On Saturday morning, I


was at a residents' meeting talking to people who knew, as you knew, how


the river was coming up. 32 tonnes, the residents filled. We knew it was


going to happen. Dave told us. We transported on Saturday morning


32,000 kilos of sand from a trading estate in Transit vans to a margin


point and we had volunteers with cones and shovels making sandbags


for a whole day. The point I want to make - please don't point the finger


at the military. They were there and ready to go. I have not heard a


single person criticise the military. They have to be asked for


by the civil authorities. I'm pointing the finger at the lady


three rows back. Off you go. Thank you. I live on the opposite side of


the river. Wraysbury have been brilliant. The flood wardens in


Wraysbury have rung me every day because I am volunteer flood warden


on the island and I have been volunteer flood warden with my


husband, who is in hospital, during the whole of this operation. We have


not received the help, Mr Hammond, I'm afraid to say. We need the help.


We had the Secretary of State for the Environment visit us today. By


the end of today, I was promised the military, I was promised sandbags, I


was promised portaloos. We have had nothing! I was promised those by the


end of the day. Why have we not received what I was promised earlier


on today? OK. I have had to evacuate myself from my house. Everybody has


been brilliant on the island, they have worked very well. Please could


you answer? Let him answer the question. I can't answer a specific


question. We have a command structure, there is a Bronze


Commander, a Silver Commander, a Gold Commander. If you have been


promised something, it should have been delivered. As I did yesterday,


I can take down your individual concern, I can look at it, but I


can't answer the question here because that's for the local


commanders to answer. Let's broaden this now into another area. No-one


with a bit of humanity would fail to sympathise with people whose houses


have been inundated. But there is another perspective. Among


harder-hearted observers of this week's events the question remains:


why be surprised if you live on a floodplain and it floods? Jim Reed


reports. March 1947 and a reminder this is


not the first time this has happened. Thousands lost their homes


in the great Thames flood. There were calls back then for the


Government to stop this ever happening again. 65 years on,


hundreds have again been moved out of houses in the Thames valley.


Troops are now on the ground in significant numbers. Thoughts are


now turning to the future and once again, questions are being asked


about building on floodplains like this. Priory Road, to the west of


Wraysbury, has seen some of the worst flooding. Sue and her husband


live at the end of the street. Here, 4X4s and fire engines are still


being turned back. It is waist height. If you are trying to get to


Priory Road, you will probably be alright in this. That vehicle there


is absolutely no good to people where we are further down on the


island. So, the people living here are having to make do to get around.


Boats and canoes are the main form of transport in some parts of


Wraysbury. The floodwater here is at least three or four feet deep. In


some places, even deeper. What you notice here when you travel past is


how some houses have escaped almost unscathed, others that are perhaps


less well designed have seen the floodwaters pour in. The head of the


organisation which monitors flood levels called today for more homes


to be built like this one, on stilts with the ground floor used as a


garage. Often, though, in areas like this, that hasn't happened. That's


flooded. It looks like steps there. At the back, they are not as high.


You will be able to see how a river house is and how dry we are inside.


You wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Sue's home was lifted from the


water on stilts with specialised concrete foundations to prevent


subsidence. You can't complain about that. No water here at all. This


house is completely dry? This house will never be flooded. I can't see a


time when we would have water into the house. It's built so high. It's


built a metre-and-a-half higher than the '47 flood. She walked us outside


to see how her neighbours were getting on. That's - the lady has


had to move out. She lives on her own. Although the water is not in,


the electric meter is very low down. We have to build on floodplains.


There is a shortage of housing in this area. If they built them like a


river house, like this, there is not a great problem because it's not


taking up much space. It is built on stilts, it is only taking up a few


square yards of space. You don't concrete underneath, gravel


underneath, don't concrete your drives, gravel them and that


minimises the environmental effect. Why then is it still easy to find


new-build houses in this area with no real protection from the river?


This evening, there are still 14 severe flood warnings along the


Thames alone. With more bad weather forecast, the Environment Agency is


warning levels could rise again, possibly rivalling these scenes from


1947, the worst British floods of the 20th Century. Colin, you are an


academic authority on this subject. What do we need to learn about


living on floodplains? Well, I agree with the earlier speaker,


floodplains are quite good places to live, 90%, or 99% of the time. There


is a risk that you will be flooded if you live there. That is why we


need the things that only Government can do and local authorities can do


and even flood wardens can do. But there are some things that only


individual homeowners can do as well to reduce their own risk. This is


quite a Tory theme, isn't it, people taking responsibility for their own


lives? There are layers here, as the gentleman said. There are some


things that only Government can do, the delivery of major flood


alleviation schemes and on this part of the Thames, we are waiting for a


big flood alleviation scheme which has been in many years in the


planning and we hope will be delivered over the next few years.


There are also things that individuals can do around their own


properties and when it comes to responding to the inevitability of


there being from time to time flood events, it is a mixture of community


- communities working together, statutory authorities, central


government, all of these things have to work together and one of the


things we have to do from this experience is analyse where we have


done that well and where we haven't done it so well and make sure we


make the system more resilient. These things do seem to be happening


more often. We do have somebody here with very particular experience of


living in a very wet environment. You are the Vice Mayor of Rotterdam.


90% of Rotterdam is below sea-level. What is your advice? Well,


basically, we have seen that we experience worst weather in the last


few times, so climate change is really happening to our cities


and... We will come to climate change in a minute or two. But


specifically the engineering and property ideas that you have put


into place there to protect yourselves against flooding?


Basically, we are trying to learn to live more with water than to fight


it and the things that we do is - for instance, we create more green


areas into cities so the city can work more as a sponge, it can take


on the rain and it can keep it longer so it don't flood into the


sewage system or into the river. We build floating buildings and


buildings that are based on poles... This sounds pretty costly? It


doesn't have to be costly. We try to mix and combine functions. We have a


large storage facility that is a rowing course, or we have storage


facilities inside the cities that are also squares. We have buildings


with green roofs so we combine functions and we try to capture


water in green roofs, in storage facilities and we create room for


the river. And that means that in some areas, you have to be very


specific about urban planning and not build there or only build there


when you have the specific measurements that we talked about


earlier on. And make sure the house is going to float, or stand on poles


and if you do that into the planning system, if you do that early on, it


doesn't need to be very costly. You need to plan ahead and do that for


50, 100 years ahead to make sure that you take the right decision.


This community has existed for hundreds of years and frankly has


got accustomed to flooding over hundreds of years. That is fair


enough? Your grandfather and father were both flood wardens? This is not


a new experience? How much does anybody who lives here except this


is a matter of personal responsibility if you choose to live


on a flood plain? The EA used to dredge the river, which therefore


gives the river more capacity to take more water and you have not


done that. As far as I am aware, the dredging was sold in 2002 and we


flooded in 2003. Human incompetence, the Environment Agency stopped that


system working. Someone else's fault again? I have been advised that you


tried to hire the dredger back in 2003 to find it had been sold for


scrap. You have done nothing since, you have not fired another dredger


for the river. We have gone from 2003 and we have flooded in January


last month and again this month. It has not in dredge in 12 years. I do


not attend to be an expert but over the years I have represented... It


is clear that different solutions are different for -- right for a


different environments so what is right for the Somerset Levels is not


necessarily right here. Does dredging always work? No, it is not


necessarily the solution we need in most cases. It can speed up the


river flow and cause banks to collapse. My understanding is that


on this part of the Thames, because we have engineered structures, the


rate of the river is determined more by them than the bottom topography


so dredging would create more storage capacity because you are


taking the cherry from the river but it would not create a faster flow


and we must remember what we are talking about. In full flow, this is


400 tonnes of water every second coming down. You could dig a very


big hole but it will not take long to fill. Dredging cannot be the


whole solution because you were destroyed the ambience and beauty of


the river, one of the most attractive reasons for living here.


You have to do this carefully. Another area is what happens when is


a flood and all of the insurance implications of her? Currently,


there is an agreement with government covering small businesses


for flood insurance but that is going and in the Lords there is new


legislation which excludes small businesses so this pub would have no


guarantees. We think this is a retrograde step. The British


insurance brokers and the Federation of Small Businesses and the property


Federation and the national flood forum, we are concerned and we want


to know that the government will look to a solution in place for


small businesses as well. But let us be clear why we are in this


position. Insurers are not prepared to continue with the scheme that has


existed which is why the government had to negotiate a new solution with


insurers and the reason they were not prepared to continue is because


of what they saw as cherry picking with some insurers being prepared to


ensure high risk properties and other, typically newer, entrants to


the market only picking lower risk. So the solution that the government


has come up with in conjunction with insurers is a levy system that will


allow property owners to get access to reasonably priced flood


insurance, which is effectively supported by a small levy on the


insurance premiums on lower risk properties. That is a process that


is underway but it has not happened because the government decided one


morning to do things differently, it was because the insurance companies


decided there were not prepared to carry on with the system that had


operated in the past. When you have got massive wadis saying, one in


five businesses are in danger, there does need to be more conversations


with the industry about getting a solution in place. This is entirely


your fault? We are talking with insurers to get specialist schemes


in place but when they guarantee is taken away, but as our concern. You


want to be feather-bedded by the government? At the moment, to create


a solution for homes, you have to charge a levy and we think they


should be a similar system for small businesses where they will make


small contributions to help those few that cannot access affordable


cover. I want to move onto another that has been mentioned by our guest


from Rotterdam. As we saw earlier, this is not the first time this


village has been flooded, even in living memory. But the rainfall the


last few weeks has been extraordinarily high. The suggestion


is it may be to do with climate change. If that's so, we'd better


get used to this sort of event. Nick Milller is a meteorologist and so


ought to know what he's talking about. We will start to see the rain


intensified. The wind will ease down. Lots of showers. Wetter


conditions... If it seems the forecast from the Weather Centre is


stuck on repeat, it is because the weather so far has been singing one


train - wet and windy. The product of a very active jet stream driving


deeper areas of low pressure across the Atlantic. One after another.


Here comes another. If it seems hard to remember a time when the weather


was not like this, it shows how quickly we forget. This time last


year a prolonged spell of easterly winds were about to produce our


coldest is bring in 50 years and at the start of 2012 the displaced jet


stream was blamed as we stared down the barrel of the worst drought


since 1976. All very different weather patterns with a common link


- each persisted for many months. The Met Office has published an


analysis of our stormy winter and says it raises the possibility that


disruption of the usual weather pattern might be how climate change


may manifest itself, an area that it is actively researching. And it is


not just the frequency of storms that is notable but how much rain


they have produced and the Met Office says there is emerging


evidence that over the year, events might be more frequent. This graph


shows that what in the 1960s and 1970s might have been a one in every


125 day event is more likely one in 85 days. It is basic physics of warm


air contains more water, translating into more rain. What confuses this


is something we all know deep down - the Great British weather is


incredibly variable. The same weather records were used to compare


wet winters will show as many dry winters also. Our weather can and


often does go from one extreme to another. Conclusions for the long


term from one season of storms are, the Met Office says, impossible to


make and even if the weather is changing, attributing that to


man-made climate change is even more challenging.


To discuss the role of climate change in all this and how we tackle


it, I'm joined by the former Government Chief Scientist, who


advises the Government on climate change, Sir David King. And the Vice


Mayor of Rotterdam, Alexandra van Huffelen. Are you surprised by these


floods? I am surprised, it has happened earlier than I would have


expected. In the sense that we put in a report to the government in


2004 on flood and coastal defence and in that report we used the best


that science could reduce to anticipate what the challenges would


be for the British Isles. The biggest challenge from climate


change is flooding. So we set out in some detail, this was an enormous


piece of work, and the net result was that we said that within 20


years, this sort of thing would be happening. Yes, it is all happening


more frequently. It was predicted that the timescale has collapsed? So


we're going to have to get used to more of this? As far as we can tell?


I believe there is going to be more of this, that is right. And what


this means is that the flood defences plan, which became an act


in 2010, needs to be continued to be rolled out. Have government 's this


and to this research? -- governments. Yes. And while it is


very important to listen to people suffering from flooding, what we are


not hearing from is the people who have not suffered from flooding. For


example, in the last ten weeks, the Thames Barrier has been closed 29 is


-- times. This is exceptional. That is one fifth of the usage of the


barrier since 1983. This is a very exceptional time. London has not


suffered in the way that these villages are suffering. We must not


forget that there are areas of Britain that have been managed


through this crisis. What lessons should be learned if the environment


is changing in the way that authorities suggest? We have seen


this and other parts of Europe, we have seen at last in Germany and so


on. What is coming from four sides, down the river, because of higher


sea levels, more extreme rainfall and ground water issues. What you


need to do is really find alternative ways to tackle these


issues. We used to build dams and dikes to protect ourselves but we


are seeing more novel ways. We need to live with water rather than fight


it and one of those things is getting rivers more room and you can


do that with dredging but you can literally give them more room. You


need to find more ways to store watcher and you need more green


areas outside cities but also inside cities where we can store water.


What does this sound like to you, who has been suffering? I looked to


the Norfolk area and irrelevance is that the sea defences programme


there in certain areas along the coastline, areas are allowed to


flood and houses have been lost. Are we saying that certain areas of


Berkshire will be allowed to flood along the River? Because at the


moment, the way the government has reacted, information from these


experts means nothing is happening -- happening in Datchit or in


Wraysbury. We knew that the flood was coming and on Tuesday the army


arrived and they build one wall with cameras rolling. Was this a PR


exercise? Why did they not just dump trailers into the residents and say,


lock up your area? We have had do this for ourselves and we will do


that. These two guys are making a bigger point about national and


international management. There are going to be places that will come


out of that less well than others. It is joined up thinking, I


represent Marlow and we had this if you days before Wraysbury but we


were able to predict the search coming down that would hit us three


days later and we were quite prepared and when the army turned up


today, we hadn't use for them. If we add a local level can predict those


floods coming and take our own defences, then why can the


government not take advice from a report and from locals, they know


that this is not a shock to anybody, it seems to be a shock to the


government. We know it is coming, your experts know, everybody knows


it is coming, except the government. To be fair... You said the


government did take your report seriously? Did they spend the money


you anticipated? The amount of money spent depends on the amount of money


that can be apportioned to this particular problem. By which I mean,


I am not the person sitting in the Treasury saying this amount on the


health service... That is a rather the logical argument. You have


investigated this matter at some length and in some detail and you


conclude that action needs to be taken. My question was, how they


spent the money they should have? Our report said in 2004... Yes or


no? ! Our report said that we must spend an additional sum of money


each year, adding to that sum of money. Has that happened? It


happened until the financial crisis. So it is not happening as Mac it has


stopped? -- it is not happening, it has stopped? We are the sacrificial


lambs for the likes of London and Maidenhead. We are all very


concerned about a very particular part of Britain. John, you had


flooding quite recently? Yes, that was a tidal surge, not rainfall. The


point is? It was a different type of flooding. It was a tidal surge up


the River Humber. That caused it. Did you see the Prime Minister and


the leader of the opposition tramping around in the middle of


this? We did not but this is an ever-growing event. And therefore,


it is becoming quite a national disaster. And quite naturally,


politicians have come along, as the disaster has grown. As a matter of


interest... The local MPs were there. They were there on site and


they would be giving the reports to the Government. Just so we know


where we all are, are we going to see this event happening again and


again with increasing frequency? You have heard some doom-laden things.


Put your hand up, come on. You are all very fatalistic then! Yes.


Anyone going to move house and leave the area? Who is going to buy our


houses? Jeremy, can I say that the Minister did say we are going to


listen to the local people. I don't wish to be unkind - seriously, I


don't wish to be unkind - but I don't believe him. We will see. We


have written to every Minister that's been involved with flooding


pleading, "Please come and see us because we are not satisfied with


what is happening. If you won't come, will you send a drainage


engineer to come?" Has he turned up yet? No. Thank you all very much.


OK. In 2003, we flooded. Our sewers were under water. Our substations


went under water. They said they would build them above water. He


said only 20 minutes ago we will learn. They had 2003 to learn from.


They had not lifted the substations or the sewers for the last four


weeks. We have been walking... I'm going to have to cut you off. We are


out of time now. That's it for tonight from Wraysbury. Until


tomorrow night, good night.


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