Cameron quizzed by press during Somerset visit

Cameron quizzed by press during Somerset visit

Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger and PM David Cameron in Somerset today

Cameron speaks to Vice Chairman of SDC Ian Dyer

Cameron quizzed by press during Somerset visit

First published in News
Last updated
Bridgwater Mercury: Photograph of the Author by

PRIME Minister David Cameron visited flood hit communities in Somerset again this afternoon (February 19) - but has said real work cannot begin until water levels drop.

He visited local MPs, including Tessa Munt and Ian Liddell Grainger and spoke with farmers and residents.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, the PM said: “There’s already a plan in place, but we need to get the maps out and look at which areas are getting flooded and see what more, over and above the plans, can be done.

“As the water recedes we will be able to see what needs to be done and what flood prevention measures have proved a success in order to replicate them. But all that can be done will be done.”

This week the PM unveiled a £10 million business support scheme which will be made available to local councils to support small businesses in areas affected by flooding since December 2013.

But at today’s press conference Cameron said: “There is already money that is being spent by the Environment Agency. The £10million – that’s for future work.

“But people shouldn’t think that’s the limit of what will be done, and that’s going to involve dredging.”

But when asked about his promise that “money is no object” the PM said: “I was referring to the flood relief operation; this includes all aspects of relief, from extra sandbags to bringing in the armed forces.

“But we will spend what is necessary and will reimburse councils.”

He said “tens of millions” have already been set aside for flood prevention work in the South West, including Somerset.

Cameron said the purpose of today’s visit was to allow him to see the new pumping solution in action, adding: “It’s been difficult because there’s such a large amount of water, but it’s good to see progress is being made.”

When asked about whether the drainage boards would be chosen as the main authority behind delivering a flood prevention action plan, he said: “We have to wait until the plan appears but it’s got to be a plan that incorporates many organisations, Government action, and the drainage boards will be a key aspect.”

He was also quizzed by journalists on the mystery three-month absence of Somerset County Council chief executive Sheila Wheeler during one of the biggest disasters the county has faced.

The PM replied: “That’s for SCC to sort out. I don’t want people to be in any doubt about who is in charge.

“Gold and Silver command have been working together to bring in other agencies and I think they have been handling this extremely well.”

Comments (3)

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8:21am Thu 20 Feb 14

freddie_mercury_undercover_reporter says...

Cameron "quizzed" by press......

Q) Who is the man sitting next to you?
A) ummm, Harry Styles? no, wait, Lord Lucan?

Q) Did you know where Bridgwater was before being told to go there?
A) Where? I thought we were in Taunton!

Q) Are you going to give us the money?
A) Well, there are several ways to answer this question............
...what I actually said was......

Q) Owls or Parretts?
A) Ostriches

Thanks Dave, we'll get back to you
Cameron "quizzed" by press...... Q) Who is the man sitting next to you? A) ummm, Harry Styles? no, wait, Lord Lucan? Q) Did you know where Bridgwater was before being told to go there? A) Where? I thought we were in Taunton! Q) Are you going to give us the money? A) Well, there are several ways to answer this question............ ...what I actually said was...... Q) Owls or Parretts? A) Ostriches Thanks Dave, we'll get back to you freddie_mercury_undercover_reporter
  • Score: 9

5:08pm Thu 20 Feb 14

bettysenior says...

Cameron tries his best but he does not know the life that most have to endure in this life at the coal-face due to his privilege background and where basically the wrong man was chosen to be prime minister - http://worldinnovati
onfoundation.blogspo
t.co.uk/2013/12/the-
wrong-man-was-made-p
rime-minister.html

Also Cameron would not go far wrong if he took on board what Blair and his astute advisers were told but did nothing as usual - http://worldinnovati
onfoundation.blogspo
t.co.uk/2013/12/poli
ticians-and-whitehal
l-are-greatest.html

Dr David Hill
World Innovation Foundation
Cameron tries his best but he does not know the life that most have to endure in this life at the coal-face due to his privilege background and where basically the wrong man was chosen to be prime minister - http://worldinnovati onfoundation.blogspo t.co.uk/2013/12/the- wrong-man-was-made-p rime-minister.html Also Cameron would not go far wrong if he took on board what Blair and his astute advisers were told but did nothing as usual - http://worldinnovati onfoundation.blogspo t.co.uk/2013/12/poli ticians-and-whitehal l-are-greatest.html Dr David Hill World Innovation Foundation bettysenior
  • Score: 1

5:59pm Thu 20 Feb 14

SomersetBranch.SocialistParty says...

Floods chaos: End cuts now!

The misery continues. As the Socialist Party''s paper goes to press there are still 118 flood warnings and 166 flood alerts. Four people have died.

Thousands of houses and properties are under water. Sinkholes also pose a threat. And the Environment Agency (EA) has highlighted the problem of ground water, meaning saturation can prolong flooding even when the rain has eased.

With the flood waters that are devastating lives across the country come revelations about the reality of Con-Dem Britain.

Firstly and unquestionably the floods have shown again that the Coalition spending cuts are a disaster.

This is not news to the millions of people whose lives have been devastated by job cuts, benefit cuts, or service cuts.

The GMB union explained that the current flooding crisis is due to "successive years of central government cuts that have trimmed maintenance budgets and staff levels to unsustainable levels."

Since the government came to power the EA capital budget has been cut by a whopping 28%.

On top of the job cuts at the EA, the Guardian has revealed that "flood-stricken communities, including the Somerset Levels, have been left without planned defences following government funding cuts".

A Panorama programme reported that a £256 million scheme to protect towns flooded by the Thames may never be built. See pages 6 and 7 for more on the impact of spending cuts.

Attempting to dodge some of the odium coming his way Prime Minister David Cameron let the cat out of the bag.

Rather than the usual insistence on 'difficult decisions' and 'belt-tightening', he said: "Money is no object in this relief effort, whatever money is needed for it will be spent."

Despite the "no blank cheque" backtracking attempts, Cameron's "we are a wealthy country" claim reveals that when the pressure on government is urgent enough, particularly when it could threaten Tory votes, the money can be found. So why not for the bedroom tax? Why not for investment in jobs for young people?

Trade union and anti-cuts meetings must discuss how Cameron and all the cuts-supporting parties can be made to feel people's anger.

Cameron's comments drive home what we already knew - that 'money is no object' for certain items. Look at the enthusiasm there is for spending £2.5 billion on F-35 fighter jets and the annual cuts to corporation tax, benefiting the super-rich bosses in the arms industry, banks and big business.

The PCS union estimates that £120 billion is lost every year through tax evasion and avoidance mainly by the same super-rich elite.

A reported 98 of the top 100 companies on the FTSE stock exchange, firms such as Tesco and Barclays, are using tax havens.

If the unpaid taxes of the super-rich and big corporations were collected the deficit could be wiped out.

That money, and what could come from the nationalisation of the banking industry and other measures, could reverse the cuts and fund quality flood defences.

The best way to ensure 'money is no object' when it comes to our jobs, pay, pensions, benefits and services is for our collective pressure to be asserted on the Coalition - most effectively through the calling of a 24-hour general strike.

Linked to this must be the fight for no cuts and socialist change so society is democratically organised and planned around all our needs, including the long-term safe-guarding of the environment.

Floods put Tories on the rocks

The floods are showing that people are angry. A ComRes poll found that nearly three-quarters of people said the Coalition didn't appear to be in control of the situation.

Rising water has exposed the fury against a pampered elite in Westminster that continues to simmer below the surface.

A BBC Question Time audience in Scunthorpe raged against a millionaires' government that had only sprang into action when the floods hit the wealthy shires.

In the South East working class communities booed the Westminster 'wallies in wellies' for neglecting them.

The floods have given the lie to the Con-Dems constant claim that the private sector does it better and that shrinking government is the way forward.

As Jonathon Freedland put it in the Guardian: "Small-government ideology may fly in the think-tank seminar room, but when water's gushing through your letterbox, few people call for the Downing Street nudge unit." And that will probably, unusually, include some of the owners of riverside mansions.

Properly funded public services are vital for the running of society. Socialists also say they should be democratically run to meet the needs of all.

Richard Ashley, Professor of Urban Water at the University of Sheffield, said the findings of his report on flooding risk for the Labour government in 2004 have been ignored.

He correctly wrote in the Independent that "the situation in England is a systemic failure to take a longer-term and strategic approach to environmental hazards".

Ashley highlighted how pro-capitalist governments kowtow to the demands of big business to the detriment of the rest of us. "Fierce lobbying" by the building corporations delayed "the commencement of Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act, which sets out how sustainable drainage systems were to be used and maintained in all new developments." Last year local councils allowed almost 90 planning developments to proceed in areas at such risk of flooding that the EA formally opposed them, according to the Independent on Sunday.

Of course the short-sightedness is not helped by the climate change scepticism that has run deep in what was promised to be the 'greenest government ever'.

Environment minister and professed sceptic Owen Patterson has cut the number of climate change advisers in the department from 38 to six and halved the funding for research into climate change.

Both Tory and Ukip groups in the European Parliament abstained on a 2012 motion on the implementation of EU water legislation.

It was designed to tackle the "rise in the frequency and intensity of floods" with "adaptation and mitigation policies".

The vote emphasised "the importance of risk prevention, mitigation and response strategies to prevent water-related extreme phenomena".

Con-Dem seats under threat

But many people are drawing the opposite conclusion. A YouGov survey found that the number of people who think that the 'environment' is the biggest cause of concern has jumped from 6% to 23% in a month.

There are also predictions that the floods could further erode the Tories' electoral chances - after all many of the areas hit have been Tory-voting.

According to the Times, of the 40 most marginal seats held by the Tories, 15 have been affected by the weather. Lib Dem seats are similarly affected.

Labour leader Ed Miliband asked if Cameron was "reconsidering the redundancies" in the EA. Does this signify an anti-cuts stance? No.

Labour remains committed to Tory spending plans. Labour-led councils are busy voting through millions of pounds of more cuts.

And, indicating Labour's commitment to capitalism, a European election candidate has even advised Miliband to "hug a banker" in the week big-bonus Barclays announces thousands of job cuts. Labour offers no alternative to the cuts Coalition.

The floods expose the blind, chaotic nature of the capitalist system and its inability to deal with crisis.

As we wrote of the hundreds of thousands of victims of Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina, the suffering of the flood victims "is a monument to a blighted system".

In 2006 we contrasted "the lack of preparation, the inaction, inefficiency and corruption" in the US authorities to the "actions of Cuba, where the hurricanes' effects were mitigated through the voluntary movement of a million people before the hurricane struck.

"One system is unplanned and based on the interests of the propertied classes. The other, although unfortunately not a democratic workers' state, still has the outline of a planned economy, which makes it possible to lessen the impact of natural disasters."

This is the key revelation of the floods - an unplanned system run in the interests of the 1% will lead to misery for the mass of the population.

Although future weather cannot be exactly predicted, adequate investment in research, public services, defences and other measures can mean weather doesn't have to cause such suffering.

But that requires a system with the key sectors of the economy publicly owned and planned under democratic workers' control and management - a socialist system.

Floods reveal rottenness of government cuts - see: http://www.socialist
party.org.uk/issue/7
99/18165/19-02-2014/
floods-reveal-rotten
ness-of-government-c
uts

For more information, or to join the Socialist Party, visit: www.socialistparty.o
rg.uk
Floods chaos: End cuts now! The misery continues. As the Socialist Party''s paper goes to press there are still 118 flood warnings and 166 flood alerts. Four people have died. Thousands of houses and properties are under water. Sinkholes also pose a threat. And the Environment Agency (EA) has highlighted the problem of ground water, meaning saturation can prolong flooding even when the rain has eased. With the flood waters that are devastating lives across the country come revelations about the reality of Con-Dem Britain. Firstly and unquestionably the floods have shown again that the Coalition spending cuts are a disaster. This is not news to the millions of people whose lives have been devastated by job cuts, benefit cuts, or service cuts. The GMB union explained that the current flooding crisis is due to "successive years of central government cuts that have trimmed maintenance budgets and staff levels to unsustainable levels." Since the government came to power the EA capital budget has been cut by a whopping 28%. On top of the job cuts at the EA, the Guardian has revealed that "flood-stricken communities, including the Somerset Levels, have been left without planned defences following government funding cuts". A Panorama programme reported that a £256 million scheme to protect towns flooded by the Thames may never be built. See pages 6 and 7 for more on the impact of spending cuts. Attempting to dodge some of the odium coming his way Prime Minister David Cameron let the cat out of the bag. Rather than the usual insistence on 'difficult decisions' and 'belt-tightening', he said: "Money is no object in this relief effort, whatever money is needed for it will be spent." Despite the "no blank cheque" backtracking attempts, Cameron's "we are a wealthy country" claim reveals that when the pressure on government is urgent enough, particularly when it could threaten Tory votes, the money can be found. So why not for the bedroom tax? Why not for investment in jobs for young people? Trade union and anti-cuts meetings must discuss how Cameron and all the cuts-supporting parties can be made to feel people's anger. Cameron's comments drive home what we already knew - that 'money is no object' for certain items. Look at the enthusiasm there is for spending £2.5 billion on F-35 fighter jets and the annual cuts to corporation tax, benefiting the super-rich bosses in the arms industry, banks and big business. The PCS union estimates that £120 billion is lost every year through tax evasion and avoidance mainly by the same super-rich elite. A reported 98 of the top 100 companies on the FTSE stock exchange, firms such as Tesco and Barclays, are using tax havens. If the unpaid taxes of the super-rich and big corporations were collected the deficit could be wiped out. That money, and what could come from the nationalisation of the banking industry and other measures, could reverse the cuts and fund quality flood defences. The best way to ensure 'money is no object' when it comes to our jobs, pay, pensions, benefits and services is for our collective pressure to be asserted on the Coalition - most effectively through the calling of a 24-hour general strike. Linked to this must be the fight for no cuts and socialist change so society is democratically organised and planned around all our needs, including the long-term safe-guarding of the environment. Floods put Tories on the rocks The floods are showing that people are angry. A ComRes poll found that nearly three-quarters of people said the Coalition didn't appear to be in control of the situation. Rising water has exposed the fury against a pampered elite in Westminster that continues to simmer below the surface. A BBC Question Time audience in Scunthorpe raged against a millionaires' government that had only sprang into action when the floods hit the wealthy shires. In the South East working class communities booed the Westminster 'wallies in wellies' for neglecting them. The floods have given the lie to the Con-Dems constant claim that the private sector does it better and that shrinking government is the way forward. As Jonathon Freedland put it in the Guardian: "Small-government ideology may fly in the think-tank seminar room, but when water's gushing through your letterbox, few people call for the Downing Street nudge unit." And that will probably, unusually, include some of the owners of riverside mansions. Properly funded public services are vital for the running of society. Socialists also say they should be democratically run to meet the needs of all. Richard Ashley, Professor of Urban Water at the University of Sheffield, said the findings of his report on flooding risk for the Labour government in 2004 have been ignored. He correctly wrote in the Independent that "the situation in England is a systemic failure to take a longer-term and strategic approach to environmental hazards". Ashley highlighted how pro-capitalist governments kowtow to the demands of big business to the detriment of the rest of us. "Fierce lobbying" by the building corporations delayed "the commencement of Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act, which sets out how sustainable drainage systems were to be used and maintained in all new developments." Last year local councils allowed almost 90 planning developments to proceed in areas at such risk of flooding that the EA formally opposed them, according to the Independent on Sunday. Of course the short-sightedness is not helped by the climate change scepticism that has run deep in what was promised to be the 'greenest government ever'. Environment minister and professed sceptic Owen Patterson has cut the number of climate change advisers in the department from 38 to six and halved the funding for research into climate change. Both Tory and Ukip groups in the European Parliament abstained on a 2012 motion on the implementation of EU water legislation. It was designed to tackle the "rise in the frequency and intensity of floods" with "adaptation and mitigation policies". The vote emphasised "the importance of risk prevention, mitigation and response strategies to prevent water-related extreme phenomena". Con-Dem seats under threat But many people are drawing the opposite conclusion. A YouGov survey found that the number of people who think that the 'environment' is the biggest cause of concern has jumped from 6% to 23% in a month. There are also predictions that the floods could further erode the Tories' electoral chances - after all many of the areas hit have been Tory-voting. According to the Times, of the 40 most marginal seats held by the Tories, 15 have been affected by the weather. Lib Dem seats are similarly affected. Labour leader Ed Miliband asked if Cameron was "reconsidering the redundancies" in the EA. Does this signify an anti-cuts stance? No. Labour remains committed to Tory spending plans. Labour-led councils are busy voting through millions of pounds of more cuts. And, indicating Labour's commitment to capitalism, a European election candidate has even advised Miliband to "hug a banker" in the week big-bonus Barclays announces thousands of job cuts. Labour offers no alternative to the cuts Coalition. The floods expose the blind, chaotic nature of the capitalist system and its inability to deal with crisis. As we wrote of the hundreds of thousands of victims of Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina, the suffering of the flood victims "is a monument to a blighted system". In 2006 we contrasted "the lack of preparation, the inaction, inefficiency and corruption" in the US authorities to the "actions of Cuba, where the hurricanes' effects were mitigated through the voluntary movement of a million people before the hurricane struck. "One system is unplanned and based on the interests of the propertied classes. The other, although unfortunately not a democratic workers' state, still has the outline of a planned economy, which makes it possible to lessen the impact of natural disasters." This is the key revelation of the floods - an unplanned system run in the interests of the 1% will lead to misery for the mass of the population. Although future weather cannot be exactly predicted, adequate investment in research, public services, defences and other measures can mean weather doesn't have to cause such suffering. But that requires a system with the key sectors of the economy publicly owned and planned under democratic workers' control and management - a socialist system. Floods reveal rottenness of government cuts - see: http://www.socialist party.org.uk/issue/7 99/18165/19-02-2014/ floods-reveal-rotten ness-of-government-c uts For more information, or to join the Socialist Party, visit: www.socialistparty.o rg.uk SomersetBranch.SocialistParty
  • Score: -3

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