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York MP pours scorn on Truss for flood defence cuts

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Liz Truss was deluged with criticism yesterday over cuts to flood defences and fire services as she waded through one of the cities most devastated by the stormy weather.
 
York Labour MP Rachel Maskell poured scorn on the Tory minister as she followed in the Wellington-boot steps of David Cameron, who mouthed platitudes in the city on Monday.
 
Sir Philip Dilley, the £100,000 a year head of the Environment Agency, also toured northern England yesterday after jetting back from his holiday in Barbados.
 
Speaking to the Star after the meeting, Ms Maskell said: “Cuts have consequences. I do not support an austerity agenda because people lose out.
 
“I have been with elderly people who were frightened because their houses were flooded. We cannot allow the kind of risks caused by austerity.”
 
In York flood defences on the River Foss faced collapse and flood water had to be released.
 
Ms Maskell said: “The pumps failed. Expenditure should be spent keeping York dry in the future, including a review of the Foss barrier and the pumps which are inadequate.”
 
Fire services have struggled to cope with the disaster following widespread station closures and redundancies, and hundreds of troops had to be mobilised — including in York.
 
Ms Maskell said: “I have called for a review of the fire service and am opposed to planned cuts.”
 
She said longer-term action was necessary against the causes of the floods — including land management, which affects the run-off of rain water in river catchment areas.
 
Environment Agency chairman Mr Dilley called in at his Edwardian home in London yesterday before heading north to see wrecked communities, homes and businesses.
 
He is the former head of engineering conglomerate Arup Group, and was business adviser to David Cameron before being knighted in 2014 for “services to engineering.”
 
He said he would be “very happy to speak” to Yorkshire flood victims, adding: “There’s obviously some lessons to learn.”
 
Across northern England, more than 6,700 homes have been flooded since Saturday, including 1,000 in Leeds, where the Con-Dems cancelled installation of a flood defence system in 2011.
 
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is due to visit the area today.

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