In the wake of the devastating floods in Cumbria following Storm Desmond, Copeland MP, Jamie Reed has called on the Government to create a special Commission with the powers to investigate, plan and fund improvements to Cumbria’s physical infrastructure and flood resilience. He argues that while the clean-up operation and ensuring public safety must be the Government’s ‘top priority’ now, a dedicated body to plan and fund improvements to the county’s infrastructure, land use and flood resilience would ensure the county is better prepared to meet such challenges in the future.
A dedicated Cumbrian body would be able to take account of the region’s unique geographical, demographic and social challenges as well as the unique challenge of Cumbria as the strategic centre of the UK’s civil and military nuclear industries.
Over the course of the weekend, various roads have been closed, bridges damaged and power lost for thousands of homes, businesses and services with the Cumberland Infirmary running on back-up generators.
Copeland MP, Jamie Reed said:
“The devastation caused to many thousands of families and businesses throughout Cumbria is tempered only by the fantastic community spirit on display. The people of Cumbria are resilient, but to experience this scale of destruction just a few weeks before Christmas is – yet again – devastating for all of those involved.
“The Government’s top priority right know must be to do all it can to keep people safe and to direct all resources available to help families and businesses get back on their feet, but it is also never too early to start planning for the future.
“Heavy rain in our part of the world should come as no surprise to anyone – rain in the Lake District should never lead the international news – and you can’t blame any Government for the weather. Flood defences bought us some valuable time to evacuate and protect homes and businesses as much as possible, but we now need a dedicated Cumbria Infrastructure & Resilience Commission to evaluate the response, learn the lessons for the future and plan and fund the required improvements the county’s needs. We need to look at roads, land use, flood defences and more. We all know that these are long overdue. Any body created to deal with this should also be mandated to evaluate fully the resilience of our creaking infrastructure and be given the resources needed to make the investments necessary so communities such as ours can still access key services at times of severe floods. For instance, one of the striking features of this crisis has yet again been the absolute stupidity of any effort to remove services from the West Cumberland Hospital and this lesson must be hammered home.
“Cumbria is a unique place in terms of geography and demographics, and national strategic importance. I’ll be making the case for the Commission directly to Ministers over the coming days and weeks and I hope that the call will be supported by other Cumbrian MPs, council leaders and local representatives. I’ll also be pressing the Government to ask for EU assistance so that all the help we can possibly access is provided. We can’t rebuild again, only for the same problems to appear a few years later.”