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Tories ‘create north-south divide’ in flood responses

THE government was accused yesterday of creating another north-south divide in its response to the weekend floods which have devastated northern England.
In Leeds, which was badly hit as the River Aire overflowed, the city’s Labour council leader accused the government of scrapping a flood-prevention scheme which was being worked on in 2011.
Council leader Judith Blake said the scheme would have protected the 200 homes and 400 businesses devastated by the floods, which she said were a “preventable disaster.”
She contrasted the response to floods in the north of England with what happened following the inundation of parts of Somerset last year.
Asked if she saw the situation in terms of a north-south divide, she said: “I think we’re beginning to feel that very strongly.
“At that time there were other flooding events in the north that didn’t get anywhere near the support that we saw going into Somerset.
“I think there’s a real anger growing across the north about the fact that the cuts have been made to the flood defences, and we’ll be having those conversations as soon as we are sure that people are safe and that we start the clean-up process and really begin to assess the scale of the damage.
“There are some very serious questions for the government to answer on this, and we’ll be putting as much pressure on as possible to redress the balance and get the funding situation equalised so the north gets its fair share.”
She said Prime Minister David Cameron should “come and see the situation for himself and to understand that there was a scheme in place, on the table, that his government pulled in 2011.
“We want answers to that and we want to know, most importantly, what action he is going to put in place to make sure that this type of situation cannot unfold again,” she said.
Mr Cameron defended government funding for flood defences, insisting the government spends “more per head of the population on flood defences in the north than we do in the south.”
But Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said the PM’s response was “wholly inadequate.”
She said: “It has been clear since its election that this government hasn’t grasped the reality of the climate change we’re already experiencing, which the experts tell us will result in more extreme weather, and extremes happening more often.”


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