July 29, 2010

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Last week's floods affected many people across Merseyside, including people in Waterloo and Blundellsands.

I am a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee and last week we met the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency. In his evidence to the committee, the Chief Executive told us that the main cause of flooding is surface water in built up areas where there is nowhere for the water to go to due to the lack of drainage.

 

This was the cause of the problems last week and that means the sewers have to be able to cope with exceptional rainfall. Last week the sewers couldn't cope.

 

United Utilities are responsible for the sewers and a number of people have asked me for help with United Utilities, including residents at the Blundellsands Classic, next to the station. The Blundellsands Classic is a sheltered housing complex and the residents do not as a rule make a fuss. However, they have had a long running dispute with United Utilities about the sewers.

 

This week, other residents in Blundellsands have told me of their frustrations with United Utilities. When the floods come, it is not just water, but sewage which floods people's homes and I am pressing United Utilities to do more to help.

 

In built up areas the lack of green space can make it next to impossible to stop flooding but in my view we can try to do more to protect people from the worst effect of floods. In the case of Blundellsands Classic residents, those responsible can do more to help with blocked drains.

 

I put my name to several amendments to the academies bill this week, along with Dr Pugh, the Lib Dem MP for Southport. We agreed that there should be proper consultation when a school wants to apply to be an academy so worked together to try to amend the legislation. Sadly, we failed to persuade the other Lib Dems or the Tories to vote with us.

 

It was good to see Dr Pugh prepared to work with Labour MPs. This is in stark contrast to his Lib Dem colleagues in Sefton who so far have gone along with the cuts in services and I was especially disappointed by the decision of the Sefton Lib Dem/Tory coalition to close the Nurture Space in Waterloo. Nurture Space does a great job of helping children between the ages of 4 and 7 who need extra support to be able to thrive at school.

 

The closure of Nurture Space will lead to more children being excluded from school, which is bad for the children, for families and for the wider community. Today's excluded children struggle to catch up tomorrow and often become involved in anti-social or criminal behaviour.

 

What concerns me about decisions to cut services for vulnerable children or for vulnerable adults is that the cuts have such a direct impact on the life chances of those affected. Those making such decisions appear to focus only on the financial aspects of cuts and paying off the deficit.

 

Without getting into the argument about whether the cuts should be made at all or whether the cuts are too early for the economy to cope, there needs to be more balance between the financial and the human aspects.

 

One of my observations so far as your MP is that decision making in the Westminster bubble is very remote from reality. Our leaders need to be more in touch, which is why I will be out and about over the summer months finding out from you more about what you think and what’s important to you.

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