Tory cuts continue as parts of Britain end up under water
THE government is intent on sacking hundreds of Environment Agency workers despite the increase in extreme weather events such as Storm Angus, which battered parts of Britain at the weekend, bringing widespread flooding.
Government pledges to invest heavily in flood defences proved worthless as motorists were stranded, railways disrupted and homes flooded.
And worse is expected. Rainfall this winter is predicted to be at least 20 per cent higher than last year.
In 2014 the government announced plans to axe 1,400 jobs at the agency, which manages Britain’s waterways and flood defences.
General union GMB said that the effects of Storm Angus were a “reminder of the previous stubborn and dangerous commitment to savage cuts” in flood defence personnel.
GMB national officer Stuart Fegan said Prime Minister Theresa May should “learn the lessons from previous Tory flood failures” and keep the agency properly funded and staffed.
He said the government is now considering outsourcing workers who manage canal locks and weir to the Canal & River Trust, which took on the job of managing England and Wales’s 2,000 miles of navigable waterways in 2012.
“Experts have questioned whether the trust has the capacity to maintain our locks and weirs in the safe and diligent manner the British public is used to,” he said.
“Our cherished lock and weirkeepers provide a vital first defence against flood risk on major rivers and inlets and must be maintained to the highest level by the agency to give the best protections against these terrible floods.”
Rachael Maskell MP, Labour’s shadow secretary for environment, food and rural affairs, said: “One year on from the last major floods it is clear that the national flood resilience plan isn’t working. I have written to the minister to call for urgent cross-party discussions to ensure that we build a proper national strategy that puts flood defence and resilience at its heart as well as address the impact of climate change.”