From: Coun Paul Andrews (Ind), Malton Ward, Ryedale District Council.
River boards used to be directly accountable to the public whom they served. Then they were all merged into successive unrepresentative national bodies, the Environment Agency being the present authority.
In 2000, I believe, the former engineer of our former local rivers board issued a report on the state of the maintenance of rivers. I recall this report stated that our local rivers had not been dredged or maintained for 15 years, i.e. since 1985. This date could be precisely identified by checking tree rings.
This looks like a central government money-saving decision on the basis that nobody would notice until many years later. However, the Environment Agency will justify the policy of not maintaining the rivers as “habitat protection”. This explanation does not wash, as maintenance failure does not save habitats – it simply creates different habitats for different species to those previously inhabiting the rivers and river banks.
Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister in 1985. However, since then there have been Labour, Conservative and coalition governments, and none of them have seen fit to reverse the policy in spite of extensive flooding in Malton, Pickering, Helmsley, the Somerset Levels, London, Sheffield and now Doncaster.
There is not one political party which cannot be blamed. Where flooding is concerned, they are all as bad as each other.
The answer is to abolish the Environment Agency and re-establish locally accountable and elected river boards.