THIS week has seen the very best of South Yorkshire as communities rallied round to assist the victims of the Don Valley floods.
It also witnessed the very worst of British politics after Boris Johnson’s initial non-response before a hastily convened visit on Wednesday when he was taken to task in no uncertain terms.
Yet, while the kindness of strangers, and reassuring presence of the Army, has helped to maintain spirits, Mr Johnson now needs to rebuild the trust of the people. Even though he has called a General Election, his responsibilities as PM take precedence over his duties as party leader and it is the same for Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers. Though her aides say that she has made two visits here this week to meet Environment Agency staff, they were so low-profile that they attracted no attention.
In the meantime, the Government needs to give its full backing to the emergency summit demanded by Dan Jarvis, the Sheffield City Region mayor, to address the short, medium and long-term needs of the Don Valley – and ensure that all the relevant agencies are co-operating with each other. Mr Johnson would be advised to take time out of his diary to chair this meeting to demonstrate his commitment to affected families and businesses.
Furthermore, this newspaper goes further and also urges the PM to make sure that his promised emergency funding reaches the intended recipients as a matter of urgency – and that the Treasury matches the money raised by the South Yorkshire Community Foundation for victims.
As the amount pledged exceeds the initial target of £250,000, it is the very least that the PM can do to thank the volunteers helping those families who literally lost everything – other than the clothes that they were wearing – when they had to evacuate their homes.
For them, all other matters, including elections, are of secondary importance.