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Floods minister Eric Pickles visits Hucknall

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Floods Minister Eric Pickles paid a flying visit to Hucknall last week to meet flood victims on Thoresby Dale.

The Communities Minister, who has responsibility for flooding, courted controversy by criticising the Environment Agency in reaction to the Somerset floods, but later apologised.

He was asked to visit the town by Sherwood Conservative MP Mark Spencer who he met at his offices at Under One Roof, before travelling the short distance to Thoresby Dale where he was introduced to residents Ted and Elaine Mullane.

The Mullane’s home was severely damaged by flood waters for the fourth time last July forcing them to live in their caravan for six months whilst repairs were made.

The couple together with neighbour Bill Ward, who has been tirelessly campaigning for action from all the relevant authorities, briefly chatted to the minister and showed them photographs from that ill-fated day last year when their street was turned into a lake after a freak storm hit the region.

“I’ve been banging my head about Thoresby Dale for years and trying to get everyone on-board,” said Mark Spencer. “The south has got extra cash from the government to help deal with their situation and I want ministers to see what has happened here.

“It doesn’t matter whether your home is flooded for one hour or two weeks or has one inch or 9inches of water the effecfts are the same,” he added. “I’m fed up of the different agencies passing the buck. We need to take action now about the problems on Thoresby Dale and Baker Street whilst they are digging up the roads to make way for the new inner relief road.”

As Mr Pickles met with the Mullanes, Mr Ward showed him his portfolio of cuttings and pictures and the design for the new road to give the minister an idea of the situation.

“Flooding is like being burgled,” said Mr Pickles. “The effects can go on for months. It is horrible and the fear of it happening again everytime it rains is real.”

Mr Pickles promised to write to the Environment Agency and Severn Trent as well as the county council to see what they could do to help but said it was up to their ‘professional judgement’.

The visit didn’t instill much confidence in the Mullanes and said they thought it unlikely his trip to Hucknall would help their particular situation.

“I had to bite my tongue when he suggested putting a sandbag down the toilet to stop it flooding again,” said Ted. “I sent another letter to the Prime Minster only last week and just got a standard letter back from DEFRA saying how the government had spent millions on flood defences. But they haven’t spent anything here.

“The people of Somerset and the south have been given money to help but we just keep being told to help ourselves but we can’t afford it.

“I think his visit was just electioneering but maybe he can do something. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

 

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