Daily Mail and UKIP slammed for ‘disgraceful’ attack on overseas aid

  

A campaign by the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the Daily Mail newspaper to divert Britain’s overseas aid budget into domestic flood relief has been condemned as “disgraceful” by Lord Deben, the former Conservative environment minister known as John Gummer.

Aid agencies, MEPs and officials from the EU and UN also told EurActiv that such a move would breach Britain’s international obligations.

The UKIP leader Nigel Farrage, riding high in polls for European elections in May, first raised the issue on a visit to flood-hit parts of Somerset last weekend, saying it would take “a tiddly per cent of the overseas aid budget” to help flood victims.

The rightwing Daily Mail, Britain’s second-best selling newspaper, then picked up the issue running a front page editorial yesterday (11 February) calling on its readers to ‘put UK flood victims first’ and “tell the PM where our foreign aid is needed” in a petition they initiated.

The tabloid, which has often championed climate-sceptic positions, railed against “waste” in the UK’s €13 billion aid budget and called for the money to be spent at home.

“Britain has given hundreds of millions towards flood relief overseas,” the editorial said. “Today, it is our own people who are enduring the misery, and the Mail believes there could no better use for the aid budget than alleviating Third World conditions at home.”

But the hint of a gathering bandwagon around an issue which had previously been the domain of the far right sparked condemnation across the political board.

“It is a disgraceful proposal to take from the poorest people on earth in order to avoid paying the cost of flooding from Britain’s own resources, resources which the Prime Minister has already promised,” Lord Deben told EurActiv.

Significant aid successes

Since 2000, overseas aid spending has notched up some significant successes. It has funded the vaccination of 440 million children against preventable diseases and the immunization of 2.5 billion children against polio.

Aid spending has also provided anti-retroviral drugs for 6.1 million people and helped detect and treat 11.2 million cases of TB worldwide. Much of this work has taken place under the aegis of the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals for 2015.

European aid in particular has helped almost 14 million new pupils enroll in primary education and connected more than 70 million people to improved drinking water, since 2004, according to the European Commission.  

“You simply cannot compare the resources of the UK with those of the poorest countries in the world, where they go to bed hungry, lack any access to water, sanitation, electricity,” Alexandre Polack, an EU development policy spokesperson told EurActiv.

Claims of waste were “simply not true,” he added.

One UN official said that channeling overseas aid into domestic flood relief would risk isolating the UK in talks about a post-2015 successor to the Millennium Development Goals, which Prime Minister David Cameron previously chaired.  

'Perversion of intent'

“Overseas aid is part of the UK’s foreign policy and how they position themselves in the world and contribute to development discussions on the post-2015 dialogue,” the source said. “How can they contribute to that if they have no money to offer the causes that may arise out of that by 2015?”

“Overseas aid is meant for overseas,” the official continued. “If we spent it on national issues, it would be a perversion of its original intent and a breach of regulations governing that part of the budget.”

Headlines in the UK have been captured by the floods which have submerged large parts of the country’s southwest, and thousands of homes have been evacuated from towns around the River Thames.

But Prime Minister Cameron clarified yesterday [11 February] that the question facing his government was “not either protecting our overseas aid budget or spending the money here at home.”

“What we need at home will be spent here at home,” he said.

EU Solidarity Fund

Graham Watson, the Liberal Democrat MEP for the UK’s storm-battered southwest said that there was little support in his constituency for the Daily Mail’s campaign.

“Most people recognise that it is an attempt to mix chalk and cheese,” he told EurActiv. “We have a duty to help people in difficulty everywhere and our aid budget is being extremely well spent.”

Watson queried why Farage’s “blind opposition to everything European” prevented UKIP from supporting a relief application to the EU’s solidarity fund.  

“I have been pressing the government to make an application and they have three weeks left to do so,” he said. “I have had talks with the Commissioner and with government ministers and I am [still] hoping they will. At present, the Treasury is resisting as we will lose some money from our rebate, but there would still be a net gain for the UK and as taxpayers have paid into the fund I think we should be taking advantage of it.”

Oxfam said that money should be redistributed from the UK’s wealthiest population sectors to help alleviate suffering in the sodden flood plains.

British bankers had received more than €70 billion in bonuses since the onset of the financial crisis – far more than the UK’s aid budget – according to a statement by the aid agency.

“At the same time billions of pounds of tax are dodged by companies and individuals who are not paying their fair share,” Max Lawson, Oxfam’s head of policy and advocacy said. “The choice should never be between helping those overseas or people in the UK, when there’s enough money to do both.”

Positions: 

Asad Rehman, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth told EurActiv that UKIP’s efforts would be better spent on supporting policies to reduce the planet’s addiction to dirty energy. “It is the height of irony that the very parties that deny climate change is happening are now calling for vital overseas aid from some of the world’s poorest countries to be diverted to deal with its effects,” he said.

Timeline: 
  • 2017: Britain to hold an in/out referendum on EU membership if David Cameron is re-elected
External links: 

European Commission

British political parties

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Comments

Mike Parr's picture

"Call me Dave" has said the following:

"My message to the country today is this. Money is no object in this relief effort, whatever money is needed for it will be spent. We will take whatever steps are necessary. We are a wealthy country and we have taken good care of our public finances".

The flooding that affected 1000+ homes near Newcastle (Dec 2013) had relatively little media attention & even less from "Dive" (well they vote Labour up North) - by contrast when Tory-Vermin voters are affected - then resources are not a problem.

A request to the Kippers: can we have another Shipping Forecast.

Paul Latham's picture

Whilst Lord Deben, aka John Gummer, may complain about the suggested switch of funds earmarked for 'Overseas Aid' towards flood relief, in reality a massive increase in aid has taken place under this coalition government since 2010. Why?

The Secretary of State for Overseas Development. Hilary Benn MP, told me in March 2006 that the total budget amounted to £4.5 Billions. A closely monitored audit trail was in place to ensure that funds reached the intended destination.

What is in evidence today is that the 13 Billion Euro aid fund grouped under this same budget, is NOT being used in the way intended.

Full disclosure by an independent body is now required about how much of this money is being miss-spent.

Richard's picture

But they have a point. It is true that much foreign aid goes to worthy causes. But those worthy causes go on in countries perfectly capable of funding from their own resources.

There is no rational reason as to why the Uk should be giving aid money to alleviate poverty in a country that is also apparently able to afford nuclear weapons, advanced jet fighters and their own space programme. There is a feeling building, rightly or wrongly, that this amounts to being taken advantage of.

It's also a bit rich to see the UK being criticised - how many other countries have actually met their committments to giving 0.7% GDP to foreign aid?

As to the comment about the Solidarity Fund...as far as the UK is concerned, there is no "European money". As a net contributor, there is only part of our own money back. Why would Nigel Farage object to that?

tony a's picture

Cameron & the conservatives are having their own hurricane Katrina moment & are desperately trying to shift the blame for what looks like staggering incompetence on behalf of the environment agency. The Government was monumentally embarrassed by UKIP who drew parallels with Cameron giving billions to help floods abroad yet they have completely ignored the disaster unfolding right on their doorstep. Only after the UKIP got involved did the Conservatives arrive for photo opportunities suddenly promising help.

Kate's picture

No one has ever denied climate change at all, obviously climate change has happened since the beggining of time. It is globol warming that is denied, and it looks like the fools have realised they have been wrong all along, that is why they have now switched to climate change. If the foreign aid is needed, then why is it spent on building rockets and weapons, it is obviously not going to the poor.
It is not the EU's money to give away, they have no money, they just take ours without our consent.

Kate's picture

The floods have been caused by the EU anyway, since 2007, which the hypocrite labour party agreed to, they should be charged with criminal damage and manslaughter, the labour MPs should be charged also with treason.

Mike Parr's picture

Kate, have you ever thought of increasing your medication? because clearly it ain't working

"The floods have been caused by the EU anyway"

hmmm ... anything else they are to blame for? (badgers moving the goalposts maybe?)

George Mc's picture

This story is about UK Aid and floods so I fail to see what the EU aid budget got dragged into the story. By the way we contribute to that over and above our own aid budget

In 2013 the UK was the worlds second highest contributor with £10 billion. As an example Germany with 81.8 million population versus the UKs 63.2 million donated £143 per head against Germany's £106.

Richard is correct in what he says about money, perhaps being wasted by being sent to countries who don't need it.

I will put money on it that a fair amount of the EU budget for aid is wasted. Add to that the probable high admin cost of Oxfam and other big charities and it is not a pretty sight. How many African leaders have become Billionaires of the back of aid?

David Bennett's picture

EU diktat that should return lowland back to its natural state is fact!

David Muscat's picture

The rhetorical garbage that eschews from this portal about the Uk seems totally at variance in some parts with logical thoughts.

The Floods in the UK are no worse than in the late 19th Century and in 1947.

What is the pity and which most people reporting here fail yo realise is that as the Flood Plains fill up with houses any likely over-topping of rivers -that happen regularly - to the flood plains have no where to go but onto the same land that is now covered over with houses, car parks and roads. Anyone with any nouse of common sense should realise that buying a house within 10 metres of the top water elevation level of a river is living on borrowed time.

Anyone with a shadow of common sense as well should not live next to the coast of the country at a similar level or on unstable coastal margins - such as in Dereham Norfolk where they can just look out to sea and notice that their coast line has receded inland by over 10 kilomtres in 200 years.

I have no sympathy with any of the Wealthy People who for want of their own prestige buy a house along the Thames embankments upstream of Teddington Weir as they knew what they were buying and do not have to go far to see and read the consequences of previous floods by looking at the water marks on the Thames Conservancy Cottages (Lock Keepers' Cottages) to see what has happened before. All that is now going to happen is that money will be thrown at the Wealthy Area of the UK (around the Thames) in to Surrey and Berkshire up to Oxford to appease the local residents who have only suffered from their own greed of attempting to but higher-valued property for prestige purposes.

A few years ago the Wealthy Millionaires who lived in Maidenhead complained and complained bitterly about their woes of beibg flooded and this resulted in the expenditure of over €250 million (£200 million) on the flood alleviation project - now called the Jubilee River - which in effect only protected 200 houses. This project was faulted at the start because it only passed river water around Maidenhead and then allowed it to end up below Windsor where the current issues are being observed. At the time this proposal was placed everyone in the Civil Engineering and Water Industries said to Mouchel and Partners the Consulting Engineers at the time and then DEFRA/Environment Agency that they were doing this wrongly and that the issue should been dealt from the lower reaches of the Thames first and then to Maidenhead otherwise the issue would only return ten years later. This is exactly what has happened and now it will cost as much as €365 million (£300 million to deal with and protect the wealthiest people in the area. But now money is no object and the issue will be solved. What a farce.

Over 6 weeks ago the Somerset Levels started to flood and nothing was done about it. Now as Mr Parr says the money will be flouted to this issue.

Barry Davies's picture

The problem is that it isn't only rich people living by the Thames that are suffering, due to the sudden massive increase in the population new homes had to be built, and there are not enough brownfield sites to supply the homes despite the governments deliberate downgrading of our industries, this has lead to builders wanting to build on flood plains, and as happened in my town the local politicians said no this is a flood plain and unsuitable, but the westminster politicians overruled them, to the dismay of our own MP, so the "affordable houses" were built, and now the out of towers who purchased them, no one who lived here was stupid enough, are paying the price of floods not just this year but every year since they were built.

Paul Latham's picture

I had friends living in the Tames Valley area, near to Datchet, Wraysbury and Staines, years ago.

I can assure those who are making comments, that far from being millionaires, the residents of these areas have been suffering from regular flooding in their districts affecting modest homes, for decades and decades.

The millionaires live just a bit further up the River Thames, at Bray.

So your criticism just does not wash (no pun intended)

Mike Parr's picture

Mr Latham - at an individual level I have sympathy. However,the principle stands - don't buy (or build) a house on a flood plain.

Thatcher (god curse her soul) was all in favour of people taking personal responsibility for their actions/decisions. What I now see is the desire for state aid in bad times following bad personal decisions.

With respect to any EU directives that the UK implemented concerning river management - the decision on how to implement lay with the UK government.

Paul Latham's picture

Mr Parr. Your observation about not building on flood plains is an obvious one. However, much of the Thames Valley is on a flood plain. Areas such as Shiplake, Henley-upon-Thames, Hurley, Marlow, Maidenhead, besides those towns and villages in the lower reaches, are affected by regular flooding and have been for many years. Well before the time of Margaret Thatcher.

Many thousands of vulnerable properties are at risk from flooding. No short term solution can be found other than by offering protection and by dredging and diverting part of the course of the Thames, as has been done in some flood-prone areas.

I suggest that it is neglect by successive governments for many decades that is primarily to blame. The Dutch are aware of such flood risks, from the sea, and budget accordingly. The North Sea floods of 1953 sounded the warning bell for them, but not for us British it would seem?

Mike Parr's picture

Mr Latham

"However, much of the Thames Valley is on a flood plain" well don't build on it then - if you do you have what's coming.

Much of the Netherlands is close to or below sea level - the Dutch don't have much choice but to build dykes. The Brits, do have a choice & there is vast quantities of land that is not low lying & is not flooded. But some people want to be by a river, or near London or near ... whatever. They made the choice - they should suffer the consequences of that choice.

I see special pleading at work here - people want government welfare (flood defences) when they could very easily live outside of a flood plain. When people are thrown out of a job because the factory closes or the company closes, governments are increasingly hard hearted with respect to government welfare. But when people's homes are flooded because the occupants made a conscious choice to live in a place that floods - well that's suddenly different and government welfare/subsidies call it what you will - is all OK.

Patrick Barron's picture

Where does the government get the right to redistribute wealth to anyone, whether foreign or domestic? There is no justification to do so. Charity is private. I cannot force my neighbor to give to the charity of my choice and the government cannot do so either. The NGO's are simply lazy and self-serving to lobby governments to confiscate money from the taxpayers.

Richard's picture

The comment about not building on flood plains is fatuous and ridiculous, equally so the idea that people could "easily choose" not to live on a flood plain.

Many of the worlds great cities are built on flood plains, because rivers have always been a focal point for population centres. One might as well complain about Paris being built by the Seine, Berlin by the Spree, Rome by the Tiber and so on and so on. It's a pattern that repeats throughout the world - and if a great city is not built by a river then it is most likely built near the coast, often forming a natural harbour.

Rivers represented water sources and trade through shipping. Obvously there are othe rmeans of transport now, but when cities were first being built then trade via ships, on the seas and rivers, was the primary. Of population centres that did not have rivers, we often ended up building aritificial ones called canals.

So it;s obviously absurd to say that we should just relocated London or Rome or Berlin, or that people can easily elect to live outside cities. Cities are the centres of economic activity and where most of the employment and services are. If everyone moves out of existing cities, they would create new population centres - which would also probably be near a river or the sea, simply because the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Your comment is like hearing about people starving in Ethiopia and saying "well, they should live somewhere where there's more food, then"

This is not to say there should not be adequate river management and flood defenses. But the weather now is a once in a century or less extreme - if you attempted to spend vast sums of money preparing defenses for such extremes, everyone would complain it was a waste of cash, like buying snowploughs where it only snows once every thirty years.

graham's picture

No government has any right to give taxpayers' money to external countries or foreigners. If individuals wish to give money to foreign governments or charities, by all means let them. I certainly won't except in cases of natural disasters - certainly not to corrupt, murderous barbarians and religious extremists.

Paul Latham's picture

Graham. Your assertion that no government has 'any right to give taxpayers money to external countries or foreigners' is incorrect.

Any government that is democratically elected in this country, does have such a legal right to do so. That is why the Foreign Aid (aka Overseas Development) budget has increased from £4.5 Billions in 2005-6 up to the equivalent of 13 Billion Euros today.

The question put to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State at the DCLG, who is also handing aspects of the present flood disaster. Is whether money ought to be diverted from this so-called 'foreign aid' back into this country to assist the victims of the floods. I think that money should be, it is fully justified by these sudden and catastrophic events.

George Mc's picture

Congratulations to Richard for a balanced and sensible post.

Others on here seem to forget we have lived by rivers and the coast for centuries.

We are all citizens of this country and pay our taxes so that when things go wrong, we can turn to the authorities and ask for help.

Would it have been possible to alleviate much of this, if consecutive governments had repaired and upgraded the nations sewerage, water, river and roads infrastructures.

I don't like to hear the politics of envy and stupidity. From some there is almost a suggestion of satisfaction that disaster has visited the rich.

Bevan thought it would be a good idea to have a universal health service to look after us all. based on some on here we should abandon it and let the week, poor and unfortunate to their own resources.

Paul Hu Lim's picture

Dear All:
Some of the comments written here do totally miss the point.

Every Government has a contingency plan for funds and so does the UK.

Extracting a sum, whatever that is to do "what exactly?" is very easily managed and the obvious statement we heard from the UK PM was get to it now - albeit the sufferers in the Somerset Levels and elsewhere outside of the South East and the door step of Her Majesty - could have been helped a lot earlier. Mr Parr has said that in a particular way and that is his use of language which not every one may condone. So what exactly is to be done with the temporary funding spend? No one here seems to state that need. The statement that €6500 or £5000 can be made available to each house hold bears little credence when - regardless of the issue - if you had been flooded out in your house with river water and sewage water would you really want to move back in within 6 months? Who then pays for the costs? Well - obviously - now that the PM has acknowledged that these costs are "money is no object" the Government (aka the Tax Payer, the residents of the UK) has acknowledge that "at a stroke" it is Its Fault. In other words the whole issue is now transferred to being the Government's Fault and as a consequence of a few misplaced words the Government and Tax Payer will be forking out the bill and the costs for this Flooding in this year and in future years to come until remedial and preventative measures have been taken to obvert another flooding crisis whether it is this autumn or next winter or in any future year. That is exactly what the silly statement the PM has now brought this country to accept. The words from the Tabloid Press instigated by an MEP Mr N Farage (doesn't gall you that he gets more publicity in the UK for not being an MP in the UK than he deserves and he fails to acknowledge in every detail where his expenses are recorded so much so that if he were to be an MP in the UK he would be in Gaol by now!)to whit that the Overseas Aid Budget should be called back to address the Flooding. This is opportunism rather than logic. There is enough money in the UK that HMRC fails to collect from all of the Bankers in the City of London who are Registered as Overseas Companues that do not pay any income tax at all - currently estimated as being £30 billion a year according to HMRC - and there are enough companies in the UK - such as IKEA, Star Bucks, Carrefour, Walmart, Mobil, Shell, Arriva, Thames Water etc., the Banks and others including the City Institutions that Sell Shares and others that hardly pay any taxes to HMG and their lost revenues would adequately cover these needs as well as the overseas budgets. Then of course the FTT (the Robin Hood) Tax was to be raised and that was more than able to cover the overseas aid budgets around the World.

I am sorry to say that the Floods issue in the Uk has been totally hijacked by the said person and newspaper for the benefits of the owners of that newspaper who is one of the culprits it the whole saga about this issue.

Everyone admits that the Department of the Environment Farming and Rural Affairs has made a complete mess of this issue and that the Minister and Secretary of State should relinquish their roles here but so should Mr C Smith.

Paul Latham's picture

Have you finished your bigoted rant Paul Hu Lim?

You have diverted attention away from this issue of the flooding of property in and around many areas of Britain.

Nigel Farage, as a democratically elected representative, has the right to express his views and opinions as an MEP, even though he is not an MP. The EU Commission and EU parliament now determine more than 70% of our laws anyway.

I remind you that MEPs receive allowances and not generous reclaimable expenses, as Westminster based MPs do. Neither is UKIP funded by the EU, as the other main political parties are.

Mr Farage's EU expense allowances are legitimate and are not in any way spurious.

The whole question now is about how the flood victims ought to be compensated, helped overcome the danmage and further flood risk to their homes and whether this government is going to fund the Environment Agency long-term to overcome and solve this problem.

Many flooded property owners will be fully covered through home insurance. Tenants may not be, unless the property is social housing owned by a council,but that still leaves furniture and personal belongings.

This is not the time for vindictive attacks such as yours, but a time when the full resources available have to be brought in to help these stricken areas.

Mike Parr's picture

Mr Lantham:
"The comment about not building on flood plains is fatuous and ridiculous, equally so the idea that people could "easily choose" not to live on a flood plain"

Nope: build on it if you want - don't expect compo when it floods. Don't expect flood protection when there are other places to live.

Mr Mc:
"if consecutive governments had repaired and upgraded the nations sewerage, water, river and roads infrastructures"

Mad Thatcher (your heroine) privatised sewers & water -I suggest you address your comments to the companies that she sold the assets to cheaply (oh dear they are not listening - too busy tax dodging).

& the health service - hmm I recall that you are not a user (in the pink, breeding (with what?) or something like that) so why would it matter to you having public services? or does it only matter when those down south are flooded - as opposed to, for example, those near Newcastle who in Dec' 2013 were flooded? 1000 houses & businesses as I recall (government action = zero).

.

Richard's picture

Mike Parr: if you want people to avoid living in flood plains, we'll have to start evacuating major cities now, including most of Europe's capital cities.

London, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, they are all built with river through them - i.e. they all lie on flood plains

Moreover, many of the remaining cities are on coasts, which also places them at risks of flood (although in a different way)

Your argument is thus fatuous and makes no recognition of reality. Cities are built around rivers for very good reasons.

The sensible thing to do is to adequately fund river control and flood defenses - not expect tend sof millions of people to relocate from risk areas - where do you expect them to go?

And people do help pay for the risk involved in wherever their home happens ot be - insurance companies charge extra premiums

Barry Davies's picture

There is a difference between living on the banks of a river and a flood plain, the name sort of gives it away, that is where the river floods, not every part of a river breaks its banks and floods.

Richard's picture

And thus, any land adjacent to a river is at risk of becoming a flood plain, even if in some cases it would take extremes of water volume to do so.

Put enough water into any river and fast enough then that water has nowhere else to go except over the banks and sideways

In other words, a flooding river become broader.

I would guess that most of the land around the now urban areas of cities like London were at one time flood plains, albeit ones that actually flooded very rarely, although now they are protected by embankments and the rivers have been dredged to become deeper. It is unlikely that the Thames would flood central London through rainful alone, however, a tidal surge is a different matter - that's why we have the Barrier.

Karel's picture

All that we evr see is the UK talk weather and very littel else. Floods occur in the UK, 2007, 1947, 1890s, and back to the Great Storms of the 12th and 13th centuries when thousands of people died across Europe imcluding Britain.
It is a bit unkind from here to hear that people should reduce their overseas aid to deal with a natural weather phenomena such as has been recorded in the press and by the MEP. This seems short-sighted as there is plenty of money sloshing around the UK and it is unfortunately not being collected by the taxman in the country.
I agree with Mr M Parr and D Muscat that this is an extraordinary series of events - BUT - why build so many houses in river basins just above river levels. I have seen the flood marks on lock keepers cottages and frankly when you see these at 2 metres above the entrance door sill anyone with a bit of common sense should take note that you should not live within 5 metres elevation of a river top level let alone 1 to 2 metres as is around the Thames. So why the dickens has it only just been realised that when the river at Maidenhead was provided with a relief channel did they not build one closer to Teddington to deal with the consequences of two rivers full of water arriving near to Datchet? It seems to anyone with a real sense of logic that the Engineers who designed this approach had no sense.

evad666's picture

Pleased to see the UK is once again being used as the whipping boy for Brussels to hide its own lack of integrity and moral shortcomings.
Successive Governments at EU insistence have de- industrialized the regions forcing the population into the SE of England while flooding the empty areas with foreign nationals.
Now of course we have to stay in the corrupt EU midden while the political classes and their infants grow fat off their political sinecures.

Mike Parr's picture

Mr Richard:

"if you want people to avoid living in flood plains, we'll have to start evacuating major cities now, including most of Europe's capital cities"

The north bank of Thames in London is higher ground - that's why they built the city on it. Evacuate the other parts? - why not?

"Cities are built around rivers for very good reasons" & the reason in the case of London?

Liverpool is built around a river - it does not flood although its raison d'etre transatlantic trade has declined to the point where the city is undergoing managed decline (industrially and economically). Of course these are economic reasons & I see no reason why, as extremes of weather continue there could not be a managed retreat from place more vulnerable to flooding - no shortage of higher ground to live on in the UK. Or is this more a case of Southern exceptionalism?

That said, if people living in the Thames flood plain want flood defences I have zero problem them funding the totality of the work out of their own pockets. However, not a brass farthing should come from the general taxation pot. & on a related note, they are living (or used to live) in very valuable properties - whose rateable value has been frozen (i.e. their property taxes have been fixed for +/- 25 years - they want flood defences - pay for them 100% on the rates.

"The sensible thing to do is to adequately fund river control and flood defences"
I agree through local taxes.

For those that think I'm a bit hard - well, back in the 1980s one of the old Tory-Vermin (Tebbit) came out with his "get on your bike" quotes when 3 million had no jobs. Problems with floods? "get on your bike & fund the defences yourselves" - you know it makes sense.

Paul Latham's picture

I am glad that you are not one of our elected representatives - an MEP, MP or even a councillor. Your remarks are those of an antediluvian, you belong in past age.

We do not require a sermon on where and how to build cities and towns with a minimum of flood risk.

History shows that large parts of the Thames Valley were being developed for housing and other property well over a century ago.

The decisions and actions taken by our ancestors are largely responsible for so much development taking place on flood plains such as the Thames Valley with the pressure for new homes to be built.

Later properties have been defended from flooding by being built with higher foundations above the likely flood line.

Fortunately in Britain we have a system that provides for the whole nation and not just those who live in flood risk prone areas.

Mike Parr's picture

Mr Lantham
"Fortunately in Britain we have a system that provides for the whole nation and not just those who live in flood risk prone areas"

tell that to the poor devils flooded in Newcastle - what you have is a bunch of southern jessies that whine when things go badly and expect the government to "do something" when it does but normally don't give a stuff about what happens outside the south east enclave - in that sense yes you do have "a system" & I'm not "sermonising" just saying that you want flood protection? - pay for it yourself don't ask others.

Paul Latham's picture

Mr Parr. You have elected representatives in Newcastle, MPs, MEPs and councillors who are able to respond to the needs of the local residents and are obliged to do so. Why else did they stand for election?

Sounds to me as if you an an advocate for demolishing the whole process of democratic government over this flood crisis.

This extreme weather was hardly predicable, over such a lengthy interval, now was it?

evda666's picture

Mr Latham,
I challenge the fact that this cycle of storms cannot be predicted http://metvuw.com/forecast/forecast.php?type=rain&region=natlantic
It is reported this distortion over the N. Atlantic is due to disturbances over the Pacific perhaps caused by the Volcanic activity over Indonesia.
Historically there is precedence for this going back to the 13th Century.
What the current situation highlights is poor Command and Control (the OODA Loop is broken)both here in the UK and in Europe. Information and support to the public is often late a common theme is the public has received little or no information and or sandbags.
Whether this is caused by Political Posturing of Councils, Unions and political Parties attempting to embarrass the Central Government or just plain stupidity must be addressed once the water falls.

Paul Latham's picture

I am guided by the Met Office in London when it comes to the weather and the current spate of storms from across the Atlantic.

Soothsayers who claim otherwise and talk of OODA loops are just that 'loopy'.

Karel's picture

Any one who knows about EMERGENCY FUNDS FOR UNTOWARD EVENTS - FLOODING ETC. IN THE EUROPEAN UNION - will be fully aware that the UK can claim over €3,700,000,000 of standby funds which can be accessed instantly. (Holland Germany France Belgium Denmark etc., etc., claim these funds regularly for such emergencies...so you in the UK can.)

But the UK Government is so anti-EU that it feels as though it can ignore this funding and will let the Tax Payers in the UK (the Funders of Government) bear the costs.

Paul Latham's picture

Karel. The present UK government is certainly not anti-EU, as the residents of this country will testify to.

Mike Parr's picture

Mr Lantham
"Sounds to me as if you an an advocate for demolishing the whole process of democratic government over this flood crisis"

Nope:
If you want flood defences because you build/ive next to a river or on a flood plain - then you pay for em - but don't ask me or other people who don't live next to a river/on a flood plain. As I stated - use the rates to pay for flood protection (don't have enough rates? raise them!).

George Mc's picture

Parr,

You do like a good left wing rant.

"& the health service - hmm I recall that you are not a user (in the pink, breeding (with what?) or something like that) so why would it matter to you having public services? or does it only matter when those down south are flooded - as opposed to, for example, those near Newcastle who in Dec' 2013 were flooded? 1000 houses & businesses as I recall (government action = zero)"

Mike, I live in Scotland and would support Public Services and help for all parts of the country (I don't know where you got that one from). We need to find some solutions for global warming and our out of date infrastructure.

Why don't you get your carer to go full time, up your medication, abolish critical rants and negativity and see if that can put you on a positive course. Go on, I dare you.

Paul Latham's picture

George Mc. Climate change, yes, This has always been with us, but is it global warming, global cooling or just more of the same?

The weather patterns are constantly changing, as a look back over the last 30/40 years bear witness. This is the primary characteristic of our climate.

We live in a temperate zone, on the eastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean, in a prevailing westerly air-stream.

The present series of intense storms and exceptional rainfall amounts has revealed the weaknesses in our flood protection measures. A loud signal for us to improve them and to minimise the future flood risk.

George Mc's picture

@ Paul Latham

Paul, I agree with you, however I am not well enough versed in the science to argue whether it is Global Warning or just where we are in the worlds cycle.

We need to do something though.

Victoria's picture

Some times we read these notes and think that people mis read the tenets of the rapporteur who first penned them.

Diverting Overseas Aid to the UK for Emergency Flood Relief or Other Disaster Relief is not necessary. The EU has over €40 billion of standby funds for such issues, and the UK should go and get it. However the big mouthed newspaper Daily Mail has totally over-looked this in its mouthing about anti-European Union machinations. We read that your PM has at last realised that there are funds available provided the needs are above €3.Billion. Well let's be frank, the damage is well and truly over this sum as the insurers will now tell you. Unfortunately - your PM - has acknowledged that it is the Government's Fault for the losses that have arisen here because - and I quote - "Money is no object here" thus at a single step and quick unwitting statement the Government has acknowledged that it will have to pay for the Clean Up. Nut, and however, fortunately the EU will step in to support this issue. Let's hope therefore that the money is actually poured in to the right areas, North of the South East and to the West and South West in appropriately large numbers to deal with the issues there as well as the wealthiest areas in the Thames Basin. That is the test of the resolve to do some thing here. (You have had other writers refer to this, D Muscat, Karel, M Parr etc mention this, so don't just throw money at the Thames area willy nilly.)

Now another point the Flood Defences in place. They seem to be inadequate, but what about the fact that past errors have compounded the issue. The Maidenhead Flood Alleviation Scheme mentioned in these writings is a point of controversy. What a nonsense building a flood relief upstream of Eton first because now there are the equivalent of two full sized Thames rivers meeting near Staines in a river of inadequate size. It looks like the writer in these notes is write saying that the Engineers that were given this remit by DEFRA in the 1990s (a name Mouchel was mentioned) who took their master's 40 Pieces of Silver to reap fees to set in train a stupid €300 Million (£250 million) idea which was highlighted by a number of Contractors and Consulting Engineers and individual Professionally Qualified Chartered and European Engineers who stated this very conclusively at the time, and even one or two decided they did not want their names "Tainted" and "tarred" with the issue. This project - now known as the Jubilee River has already been described as the single and most-expensive folly of a flood defence scheme ever built in the Auk as it benefited barely 100 houses and even then the most wealthiest in the community. Now barely 20 years later the chickens have come home to roost and the Windsor Staines to Teddington Flood Alleviation issue will be needed at a cost of over €560 million (£450 Million) new programme to rectify the issues currently seen. But even then this will need further works to manage as yet again downstream in the tidal reaches of the Thames the issues will need further work.
One of the writers says that this flooding was not foreseen. What absolute nonsense! Ignore the newspapers like the Daily Mail for a moment, for it said that this winter was going to be the coldest for a century with snow and ice from Christmas to the end of March, and think about the issues. The Thames flooded in 2007: it flooded in 1947, and in the 19th century and for years and centuries before. Britain has had floods since long before these dates and records of the Great Storms in the Middle Ages still exist with winds that “tuned waves along the south coast and remodelled the Rivers and coast line between Eastbourne and Dover as well as along the East Coats. 60,000 people died in Holland in one year alone, well before they built their current dykes! Lessons from History should be learned by All. It is somewhat strange therefore to say we did not expect this. It was coming and it always was.

The Somerset Levels are notorious for flooding…so what is so unusual this time? Well this issue reminds us again of the Maidenhead Flood Alleviation programme. Malton and York have flood histories that have been much more prevalent than the Thames but no one seems to have cared as much about that issue. It is only when the likes of Terry Wogan, Rolf Harris, Michael Parkinson, and Others in the vision of the press get a little irate that something is done. When a presentation was made about the Maidenhead Flood alleviation programme all the issues came down to a series of very Wealthy Millionaires living near Boulter’s Lock and Bray being flooded out twice in a few years. Oh dear, it has happened much more regularly elsewhere but no one cared quite as much or had the Media (Printed and Broad Cast systems) under their control. So now presumably Mr and Mrs Beckham in Marlow will start up their call for that town to get a flood relief system going! This whole issue is shades of a farce, and Mr M Parr is right there.

What an absolute nonsense it is to have just one railway line to Plymouth after Exeter? Here there is an example of a really old piece of fallacy in cutting back railway lines. This dates back to the 1960s. Dawlish and Dawlish Warren have always suffered disruption to the railways. Surely it is nonsense in these times to rely on masonry walls to support the railway – and a main line one at that. This should have been piled and protective roofing built over it many many years ago. Now it will be out of action for at least 8 months. How about reinstating the old railway north of Dartmoor. It is still there!

Naturally when the issues are brought down to the current times, the people affected are all in the same boat here – SUFFERING. It is nigh impossible to relocate the whole or Worcester to another location away from the Severn, or Stratford – upon – Avon, or the people between Windsor and Teddington or further upstream, that is a tall order. But is it? What happens if the same thing happened again in 2015 and 2016 and 2017 and 2018 and 2019? Now think of the impossible, then assuredly as eggs are eggs relocation will happen. It will be necessary to think of this in the future. And now go back to Dereham in Norfolk, also mentioned earlier. The Coastline there has moved back 20 miles since the 10th Century. And they expect the Government to protect their houses.

Beachy Head Lighthouse on the Cliffs near Eastbourne was moved back 200 metres a few years ago…this winter the cliffs lost 20 metres! What next?

The Country has to realise that the issue is bigger than just saving Worcester, the Somerset Levels or the Thames and the South West Railways lines.

Paul Latham's picture

Victoria. Do not rely on the EU for support in the current crisis despite what the massive reserve of funds may indicate.

Neither Manuel Barroso or Martin Schulz are friends of Britain.

Despite your complaints, much money has been spent in the Thames Valley on flood alleviation. Your point about the Maidenhead scheme does not take account of work done south of Eton, where the 'New Cut' was built at Wraysbury decades ago, diverting part of the Thames flow and creating Ham Island out of a loop of the river.

This is not the time to bear recriminations about where people live in flood prone districts either.

Karel's picture

Dear Mr P Latham: You make some good points to Victoria is she is British or is she observing from outside as we are from Sofia.
Your P M Mr D Cameron is asking for EU funds now and this should put an end to the issues in the premise to this article.
The new cut at Wraysbury is totally inadequate for two times the flow of the river. Just take a look at Reading as shown in BBC i-player and you can see that the flow is at spate and potentially greater than this number. The point made is that the design for Maidenhead was built in the wrong order - it should have been built after or at the same time as downstream, then the predicted isue about the current floods would have been less. The Maidenhead isue was a "lnee-jerk" response to the wealthiest around that town because as Mr Parr said they command most votes in Elections. ((This has parallels in the Poll Tax isue where Scotland was the trial run, the riots there had no consequences. (By then as the Government of the time had already given up Scotland as voters for her party.) However when rioters approached the Windsor Castle walls - the Maidenhead and Windsor residents - the isue soon became a National Headline, and the scheme was then totally dismissed.)) From here we also have the same isue and it is the same wherever you are. If the events in Somerset had happened in Chelsea - which it couldn't - there would have been uproar over the inability of the residents not being able to drive their children to school in their status symbols of their "Chelsea Tractors"!
The points running through this whole issue was in fact mentioned by the local MPs for the areas in Somerset and then Windsor last week (have a look at those recordings on BBC i-player) ad you can see the dissent. It's no good Ministers or PMs visiting such areas as these visits cost huge amounts of money. Who paid for the flights to Plymouth and Exeter and Blackpool? Vote catching again - thats what it looks like - and the whole isue is a ruse. Same with Mr Fargae, he is doing this just for that.
So do not decry those who say that there is a lesson to be learned from past failures, for now the consequences are there for all to see and pay for.
Good for the EU responding and saying these funds are available the UK is entitled to up to €10 billion (£8 billion) for the recent isues of flodding and so ir should get it. These are unprecedented times.
Take note also that the recent weather has destroyed many many farms and the results of this is as yet unseen. Wheat crops are ruined all across the country, just as animal husbandry isues and the ground crops and vegetables. Those consequences will materialise in the late spring and summer when food prices jump by the expected 30% forecast. This will be compounded by our dear friends in the USA/Canada who are suffering a colder winter than normal. So yest get the money from the EU and recognise it UK Government for it may not be available for ever.

Paul Latham's picture

Karel. I have visited friends who live in the Wraysbury and Datchet areas decades ago. Flooding in the district is well known and commonplace.

The problem stems from property being constructed in the past on the flood plains, without adequate footings to ensure that the habitable floors are well above the flood-line, besides many homes are bungalows in this district.

This whole area of the Thames Valley is subject to regular flooding. This is nothing new.

The development of a satisfactory new strategy by the Environment Agency may have to await until the next general election in 2015. We have too many involved at present with a minority viewpoint and green agenda.

Mike Parr's picture

Mr Mc

your record is stuck, as usual, on blather, you need to give it a nudge which of course may move it on to more different blather - but we live in hope.

Doing "something" requires money. Moron-con seems to think there is loads of money - although his mate Gidiot seems to have as his priority giving money (tax cuts) to the rich (5% cut to 45%). Spending money on flood prevention having been .... cut. Still, I get those that enjoyed the tax cut in the Thames valley can use it to dry out their carpets.

I'll leave you with this thought:

The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequence.

George Mc's picture

Parr,

You have the arrogance to accuse me of playing a stuck record when you posts usually go of topic, repeatedly witter on about left wing rhetoric. To say nothing about your continual inability to debate a point without resorting to juvenile eccentricities:

Mad Thatcher
Sh(city)
Tory Vermin
Moron-con
Gidiot
etc, etc.

I have no idea what you are on about half the time and younger people must really wonder!

Your post is yet again more left wing drivel. You need to try and get over Thatcher, she left the scene in 1990. twenty three years ago. We have had Labour in power for 13 of that. Are you really telling me that I should be blaming all our financial woes on Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan. No, we have moved on since then. I am not seeing you get too much support for you case on here (except for one French troll).

What irritates me ever so slightly, is that thousands of people have suffered a disaster in their lives. Real people, real families, real children, who have no idea how much longer this is going to last. Real business who employ people and struggle to survive.
Your response is the predictable politics of envy, they are rich people let them use what they saved on tax to deal (50% down to 45%) with it. surely even you must realise that that everyone does not live in millionaires row. It could happen again and again, don't care, make them pay. It is going to cost the country an absolute fortune. Your politics wont let you see, that as a country (that's us Scots as well), we need to come up with a response and plan to deal with it and prevent as much as possible a repeat in future years. Politics should not come into it and to suggest otherwise is frankly pathetic.
As I have said before don't look back, try and get into a positive frame of mind and see if we can solve this important issue. Try and be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.

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