Monday 11 November 2019 / 5:56 PM Flooding / Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn urges Boris Johnson to declare a national emergency and hold a COBRA meeting on floods

Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn has sent a letter to Boris Johnson asking him to “hold a COBRA meeting and take personal charge of the government’s response to the devastating flooding we have seen over the past few days”.

He has also called for the government to ensure “every resource is being utilised to aid those that need it and protect against future potential floods” and “that the insurance industry fulfils its responsibilities”.

Addressing the regional imbalance in funding for flood defences Jeremy Corbyn said: “If this had happened in Surrey, not Yorkshire or the East Midlands, it seems far more likely that a national emergency would have been declared.”

Analysis by the Labour Party shows that flood response services have faced crippling cuts under the Tories, with frontline agency staffing numbers slashed by more than a fifth.

Since the Tories came to power, fire and rescue services across the country have been cut by over £300 million in real terms, shedding 23 percent of their frontline staff.

In South and West Yorkshire firefighters have been cut by 25 and 36 per cent respectively. Whilst Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire have seen a cut of 11 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.

The Environment Agency, which is a tier one responder responsible for preparing emergency flooding plans and responding when flooding occurs, has lost 20 per cent of its staff.

The agency’s ability to respond to flooding incidents has been compromised by insufficient funding, with most incident response roles now filled on a voluntary basis by staff working overtime.

 

Notes to Editors

  • Full text of letter:

 

Dear Prime Minister,

 

Over the past few days we have both visited those affected by the devastating floods across Yorkshire and the East Midlands.

 

You’ll know that hundreds of homes have been flooded and over a thousand properties have now been evacuated. Our hearts go out to those affected, including the friends and family of Annie Hall.

 

With heavy rain expected in parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands, in areas that are already suffering from flooding, hundreds of further flood warnings are in place. Rightly there will be hundreds of thousands of people across these regions who remain concerned about their families and livelihoods.

 

With this in mind, I am writing to urge you to hold a COBRA meeting and take personal charge of the government’s response to the devastating flooding we have seen over the past few days. In addition, we need full assurance from the Government that every resource is being utilised to aid those that need it and protect against future potential floods.

 

With dozens of flood warnings still in place, I have to disagree with your assessment from the weekend that this is not a ‘national emergency.’  If this had happened in Surrey, not Yorkshire or the East Midlands, it seems far more likely that a national emergency would have been declared. Every year we don’t act means higher flood waters, more homes ruined and more lives at risk due to climate change.

 

The Government also must ensure that the insurance industry fulfils its responsibilities. In addition, going forward the industry must continue to provide insurance at an affordable level to householders.

 

I urge you again to hold a COBRA meeting to ensure all is being done to help the families affected.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Jeremy Corbyn

 

  • Fire and rescue services across the country have been cut by over £300 million in real terms and lost 23 per cent of their frontline staff since 2010.

(Source: https://labour.org.uk/press/tories-slash-government-funding-to-fire-services-by-over-a-quarter-in-five-years/)

Tories slash government funding to fire services by over a quarter in five years – The Labour Party

On bonfire night, new analysis by Labour has revealed that the central Government grant to fire and rescue services has seen a real-terms cut of £314m or 27% since 2015/16.

labour.org.uk

 

  • The Environment Agency has lost 20 per cent of its workforce since 2013, and staff have seen pay cuts of 20 per cent in real terms.

(Source: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2018/12/08/environment-agency-pollution-inspections-cuts-rivers/)