Gloucestershire’s Lib Dem MEP Sir Graham Watson has continued the fight for the region to obtain EU funding to tackle flooding after meeting with the European Commission responsible for the EU Solidarity Fund. The news comes as an online petition to support Graham’s campaign reaches nearly 1,000 signatures.
Watson met with Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner responsible for administering the emergency fund. The Euro-MP has been given a reassurance by the Commissioner that Britain could apply for such funding, or utilise EU regional development funds towards flooding prevention infrastructure in the future.
Watson will now continue to press the government to take immediate action, commenting:
“After taking this issue directly to the man who is responsible for this emergency fund, I will now continue to lobby the government to see that action is done. It is time the UK Treasury and Owen Paterson come clean and admit that the government can apply for EU funding.
“Whilst there are rules stipulating the size of damage in order to apply for national funding, there is provision to apply for funding on a regional basis and I have been given assurance that an application could be made for the South West.
“In Gloucestershire, the flooding has become an annual occurrence and enough is enough.
“It is time for a long term solution that will not only ensure the necessary repairs are carried out now, but to also ensure we can prevent flooding from becoming something we permanently live with.”
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for the Cotswolds, set up a flooding group last year to solve problems in the Churn Valley. This resulted in action by Cotswold District Council which prevented homes from flooding this time round. But he said that the flooding was ‘making life a misery’ for other residents, commenting:
“I have seen first-hand the impact on residents in Cirencester this month of flooded drains and raw sewage on the streets.
“I am backing Graham’s call because Gloucestershire – and the Cotswolds in particular – has once again been at the mercy of the ever extreme weather patterns. Towns like Cirencester deserve a share of EU money to help clear up from the impact of flooding and upgrade the creaking sewage systems which aren’t able to cope with the deluge of water. This is now a yearly event for some and it is making life a misery for those concerned.”