‘You have every right to be angry,’ Jeremy Corbyn tells York’s flood-affected residents

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and local Labour MP Rachael Maskell, lift some sandbags during his visit to view flood affected areas in York. (Picture: John Giles/PA Wire)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and local Labour MP Rachael Maskell, lift some sandbags during his visit to view flood affected areas in York. (Picture: John Giles/PA Wire)

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Jeremy Corbyn met angry flood-hit York residents who felt “abandoned” by the authorities.

The Labour leader was praised by locals for visiting a council estate, rather than the “posh” streets where they said the Prime Minister had gone on Monday.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn walks across a foot bridge at the Foss Barrier, during his visit to view flood affected areas in York.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn walks across a foot bridge at the Foss Barrier, during his visit to view flood affected areas in York.

As the clean up went on in Rosemary Place, close to the historic city walls, the Labour leader was followed by a large entourage of photographers and reporters, as well as local Labour MP Rachael Maskell.

Jeremy Corbyn: 2016 will put Labour on course for Government

Lee Moran shouted over the road at the gathering, frustrated by what he felt was a poor response by the city council and police to the floods.

The homeless 44-year-old said he had to organise the flood response locally, helping people who were stranded above the flood waters.

“We have got a lot of very hard-working engineers and workers for the EA who have made superhuman efforts to try to protect this city, as they have tried to protect other cities all around the country, and I think we should be grateful to them for that.”

Jeremy Corbyn

But when he was introduced to Mr Corbyn he apologised for getting cross.

The Labour leader replied: “You have every right to be angry.”

Mr Moran said: “You are the first person to come up here. Mr (David) Cameron has been, he went to all the posh estates, he didn’t come to see the council estates.”

Mr Moran said a group of Muslims from Birmingham had volunteered and were helping with the clean-up, dragging sopping carpets from wrecked flats.

Azia Carlyle, 17, from York, who met Jeremy Corbyn in the flood-hit city and told him her friend wanted to marry him. He replied: "Marry me? I'm already spoken for. I'm really sorry." (Picture: Tom Wilkinson/PA Wire)

Azia Carlyle, 17, from York, who met Jeremy Corbyn in the flood-hit city and told him her friend wanted to marry him. He replied: "Marry me? I'm already spoken for. I'm really sorry." (Picture: Tom Wilkinson/PA Wire)

And he said locals had lost personal items which had more than a monetary value. “We helped one woman who has lost five years of artwork,” he told Mr Corbyn. “It was sickening.”

The encounter ended with a handshake.

Mr Corbyn also met Victoria Mariga, 23, who is unemployed and whose flat was damaged in the floods, losing clothes, carpets and blinds.

Afterwards she said: “Everyone is the same around here, we feel abandoned.”

Asked if she thought Mr Corbyn’s visit will help, she said: “It depends if he goes on his word.”

She said help had come from Birmingham, Norfolk and Darlington, in the form of food parcels and cleaning products.

“Thank you so much,” she said to the donors. “You don’t understand how much we are grateful for it.”

Walking past flood-damaged businesses in the Walmgate area, Mr Corbyn was stopped by well-wishers.

And around the corner on the way to Rosemary Place, 17-year-old fan Azia Carlyle thanked him for coming.

Mr Corbyn praised her Jimi Hendrix t-shirt, saying the 1960s musician was a hero of his.

She said one of her friends wanted to marry Mr Corbyn, to which the Labour leader laughed: “Marry me? I’m already spoken for, I’m really sorry about that.”

Her home has not been affected by the floods but the Grand Opera House where she works was hit.

Afterwards she said: “I think he is absolutely amazing, his politics speaks out to young people. His politics speaks out to young people.”

Corbyn has praised Environment Agency staff for their “superhuman efforts” to protect homes and businesses from floods.

He said the Government must now look again at the cuts it has imposed on the agency and he called for more spending on flood defences up and down the country.

Mr Corbyn met EA staff at the Foss Barrier, which was knocked out by flooding, to see if lessons could be learned.

He said: “We have got a lot of very hard-working engineers and workers for the EA who have made superhuman efforts to try to protect this city, as they have tried to protect other cities all around the country, and I think we should be grateful to them for that.”

Asked what Labour would do to help, he said they will pressurise the Government to “fully fund the Environment Agency, not cut its budget” and pay for flood defences where necessary.

He said the flood response showed how well organisations like the EA, local authorities, the police, fire service and the army could work together, but they needed public support and funding.

When he was asked why it had taken him five days to come to York, he said: “I didn’t want to get in the way of people doing an emergency job at a highly critical time.

“I think to turn up in the midst of all that is distracting engineers.”

He refused to criticise the EA chairman Sir Philip Dilley who was in Barbados during the floods, saying engineers were the ones dealing with the situation.

After Storm Frank passed through the UK, the clean-up began.

In Scotland 12 people, including two children, were rescued from a bus after it was stranded in flood water on Wednesday.

Ten passengers were airlifted by a Royal Navy helicopter from the vehicle when it became stuck in Dailly, South Ayrshire, at about 1.35pm on Wednesday.

A further two people were taken off the bus by officers from Police Scotland’s marine unit.

Flood waters also affected the village of Ballater in Aberdeenshire near Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s summer residence.

Police arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of theft after residents concerned about looting from flooded homes raised the alarm.

West Yorkshire Police officers responded to reports in the Mytholmroyd area about a man acting suspiciously near wrecked properties on Wednesday morning.

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Jeremy Corbyn: 2016 will put Labour on course for Government

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