Labour MP Bill Esterson calls on Environment Secretary for extra

Bill Esterson



Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson called on the government to provide extra funding to ensure that Sefton's coastline can cope with any future storms after the recent high winds battered our sea defences.

Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Bill called on Secretary of State for Environment, Owen Paterson, to ensure that money is available for rapid repairs to our coast.

Bill said: "Significant damage was done in Crosby and Hightown during the December floods.

"As a result, council officers told me this morning we were very lucky to avoid further significant flooding this weekend.

"Cuts to flood defence funding mean that many communities have now been left vulnerable to further flooding. Will he therefore ensure that funding is made available for the early repair of flood defences which have been damaged?"

Bill said it was crucial that the sea defences are repaired as soon as possible.

Bill said: "We have taken a battering in the past couple of months because of the heavy winds and tidal surges. The latest storm this week has really taken its toll.

"I paid a visit to the coastline at Crosby, Hightown and Formby. The damage is clear to see and it will take resources to repair the damage to make sure we are storm-ready next time. Resources that Sefton Council doesn't have due to the Tory-Lib Dem Government severe cuts to Sefton's funding.

"That is why I urged the Secretary of State for Environment to ensure that funding is provided to get the work done.

"Our coastal defences are crucial in ensuring the safety of thousands of homes and properties up and down the Sefton coastline. They need to be sound before we are hit again. Some repairs are already being carried out thanks to the speedy action of council staff, but we need to make sure that there is enough money from the government to bring flood defences up to the standard needed as soon as possible and to make sure that improvements can be made where needed."

The New Year storm surge coincided with news that the Tory-Lib Dem Government had slashed 1,700 jobs in the Environment Agency, the national body responsible for flood protection.

Bill said: "The government's announcement that they are axing 1,700 posts at the Environment Agency comes at a time when the country is experiencing the worst storms we've seen in a generation and at a time when experts say the storms we've seen recently will become much more commonplace.

"The government's own climate change special envoy has warned that we need to increase investment on flood defences to cope with the predicted increase in flood-threat. But it is a major concern that the government is in fact cutting such investment. According to the government’s own figures, they will have cut spending on flood defences from £646million when they were first elected to £546 million at the next election.

"Rest assured, I will continue to put pressure on the government to ensure that funding is provided to secure our communities here in Formby, Hightown and Crosby through sound coastal defences."


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