Hundreds of Kent flood victims listened with anger this week as officials explained that they could have to wait years for new flood defences.
David Cameron’s promise that “money is no object” means nothing to those driven from their homes by rising water on Christmas Eve. Some face months in temporary accommodation.
Environment Agency officials addressed a meeting in Tonbridge this week.
They said no flood barrier will be built to protect the nearby Hildenborough village unless it can be proved to give “value for money”.
Megan Glover told Socialist Worker, “It made me gasp in horror when I heard that phrase ‘value for money’.
“We were given eight minutes’ notice to get out of our house on Christmas Eve. We had to wade out with two young children, and now we’re out of our home for six to nine months.”
EA officials at the meeting said funding cuts had meant that drainage could only be maintained to a “minimum standard.”
The council added that without more money the extension to the Leigh Flood Storage Area—required to protect Tonbridge—won’t be possible until 2035.
This neglect is replicated across Britain. New rules brought in by the Tories mean flood defences need to show they will save £8 worth of damage for every £1 they cost.
Steve Copping was flooded out of his home in Hildenborough. “When Cameron says money is no object, he’s talking about businesses,” he told Socialist Worker.
“He doesn’t care about people whose homes are flooded. We’re just left in a lose-lose situation—they put up our insurance while the value of our homes go down.”
Insurance bosses were set to meet with the government as Socialist Worker went to press. They want to find a way to stop flood costs hitting their profits.
Flood victims across Britain feel abandoned by the government. One Tonbridge man summed up the anger of thousands telling the gathered officials, “You’ve all let us down.”