Over the past week I have continued to work on the process of cleaning up after the floods and power loss we experienced across the Lancaster district. I was very grateful to Jenny Walmsley who chairs the Caton-with-Littledale parish council and to John Taylor from the local National Farmers Union for introducing me to local people, farms and businesses who have been affected by the flooding. I’ll continue to work to support everyone and will be asking challenging questions going forward.
In Parliament Labour called a three and a half hour debate on climate change and flooding on Tuesday and I spoke in that debate about the way in which our local community has responded to the floods. The floods in recent weeks are consistent with what we should expect in a warming world. Met Office data show that annual rainfall has increased in the UK since the 1980s. Five out of the six wettest years on record have occurred since the start of the new millennium. That is a warning that I heed so I voted in favour of the motion which challenged the government on its cuts to flood defences and called for a climate risk assessment that considers the implications of the Paris Summit for future flood risk. It should not take another flood for the Government to realise their mistake. I also call on them to take climate change and flood defences seriously.
Locally I have written to Lancaster City Council and Lancashire County Council asking to be included in any review of what happened and how we can best prepare for any such events in future. I have also met with Matt Wrack from the Fire Brigades Union who shared with me his concerns that cuts to fire and rescue services may make it more difficult to respond in future. The emergency services were all incredible during the floods and power loss and I pay tribute to them for that – and will be ensuring I do everything I can to support all our blue light services going forward.