Socialist Worker

National and local government have abandoned us, say flooded residents

by Kelly Hilditch
Issue No. 2059

The plight of hundreds of people who are being left to fend for themselves after the recent floods speaks volumes about the priorities of this government.

The government talks about money that is supposedly pouring into the areas most affected, but little of it seems to be reaching those who are most in need.

The city of Hull already suffers from double the national rate of unemployment, and there is a sense of neglect by the government – despite the fact that its local MPs are cabinet minister Alan Johnson and former deputy prime minister John Prescott.

Floods forced hundreds of residents from the Bransholme estate on the edge of the city to evacuate their homes and sleep on chairs in the city hall.

Most have no insurance and face not just remaking their homes but also rebuilding the community.

It is not only central government that is failing in its duty. Local councils too are dragging their feet.

Maxine Bowler is a member of Respect in Sheffield, which was also badly hit by floods.

“The media here talks endlessly about how flooding affected the Meadowhall shopping centre – but much less about how people’s lives are being wrecked,” she said.

“Bolsover Road has flooded twice in the last month. On both occasions people were evacuated.

“The council says that there is a water tunnel running under people’s back gardens – and that it’s up to residents to deal with it. That’s disgraceful.”

“A man I work with has been told he won’t be able to move back into his house for six months. He’s living in a camper van. Why is the council doing nothing about that?”

Karen Mee is a teacher from Sheffield. She explained that many people are still forced to live in the upstairs of their homes in the rooms that the water didn’t reach.

“Last week the council was only picking up the ruined furniture from homes of council tenants. Everyone else was left to fend for themselves. People who have lost everything now can’t even get rid of the ruins.”

Yet even as people struggle to deal with the aftermath of the floods, it has been revealed that England’s flood defence programme is facing funding cuts that could last until 2011.

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Tue 10 Jul 2007, 18:14 BST
Issue No. 2059
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