Flooding Round Table
The Christmas and New Year floods were a wake-up call: our communities remain vulnerable to the forces of nature unless we act to protect them. I want to assure my constituents that I am acting in the wake of recent flooding, and will be doing everything I can to secure funding for proposed flood defences to protect vulnerable areas. I will be writing to the Treasury to press the case for capital investment and raising the issue with relevant ministers as necessary.
Last week I chaired a round table meeting of representatives from key agencies, councils, small businesses and local individuals. The meeting provided the opportunity to share experiences of how flooding affected our communities and to recommend solutions going forward. Nationally the UK saw the wettest weather for two and a half centuries, and with flows in the Medway at their highest ever levels, the Leigh Barrier was unable to adequately protect some vulnerable areas downstream. Yalding was left devastated, and it was poignant yet heart-warming to see and hear how communities responded. Lessons will be learned from these floods, and I believe the meeting was an essential step in ensuring a coordinated approach takes into account local concerns with clear and consistent communication in future.
Kent County Council has pledged to put up half the funding for possible flood defences if the Government matches them - with a new storage area for the Lower Beult and increasing the capacity of the Leigh Barrier among the options being considered. As the Environment Agency made clear, securing funding is about the private sector, public sector and agencies working together with the local community. I will be working closely with all key stakeholders, and in the meantime, I will be publishing a full report of the meeting to reinforce our case and ensure the voices of those affected by the floods reverberate loudly in Westminster
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