Whilst political leaders Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have been unable to agree on whether widespread flooding in this region constitutes a national emergency, the reality is that yesterday, local communities were still dealing with the disastrous consequences of “almost biblical” rainfall, three days after the deluge battered parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands.
In Fishlake, Doncaster, one of the areas most badly affected, community spirit was demonstrated in earnest as individuals and local organisations rallied together to support each other. Elsewhere, others confronted the scale of the clean up effort, as forecasters predicted another wet and unsettled week ahead. When severe flooding badly hit parts of Southern England back in 2014, then Prime Minister David Cameron said money was “no object in the relief effort” and cancelled a visit abroad to lead a national response.
Though on Saturday Government’s Bellwin scheme was activated, to reimburse local authorities for the immediate costs they incur as part of their response to flooding in Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, the reaction from current Prime Minister Mr Johnson after visiting flood-hit Matlock on Friday was that the devastation in this region was “not looking like something we need to escalate to the level of a national emergency”.
His Labour opponent, however, disagreed and Barnsley Council leader Sir Stephen Houghton has since echoed Mr Corbyn’s call for the crisis to be considered as a national emergency. Without such recognition, it remains incumbent on local and regional leaders to coordinate an effective response.
They must deploy whatever resources are deemed necessary to support the recovery of affected communities and stake their claim to central Government for any assistance they need.