YP Comment: Flooding – tide of anger is rising again

Britain had a lucky escape during this week's floods, but complacency is not a sustainable strategy.
Britain had a lucky escape during this week's floods, but complacency is not a sustainable strategy.
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THANKS to the vigilance of property owners, and the professionalism of the rescue services, there was no repeat of the floods which wreaked so much havoc here last winter.

Yet, as the flood sirens sounded once again in those Calder Valley communities still counting the cost of the damage and destruction inflicted in December last year, it’s another reminder that politicians – and others – are failing to learn basic lessons when it comes to preventative measures.

With the water table now at a high level, what can – and should – be done?

First, Yorkshire’s main roads would be less vulnerable to surface water flooding if the drains were actually cleared of fallen leaves and other detritus – basic highway maintenance must be undertaken.

Second, it’s perturbing that so many services were delayed, or cancelled, on some of the region’s busiest railways. Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world and the country’s basic transport infrastructure should be far more resilient.

Third, there is the management of vulnerable areas which are particularly prone to flooding. Yet, while it will take time to protect the Calder Valley, better management and control of water levels in the area’s reservoirs might provide some relief to those homes and businesses that have been flooded so regularly since 2012. Rather than implementing schemes on a piecemeal basis, the impact on entire river catchment areas needs to be considered from the outset.

Fourth, does the Government seriously think that has sufficient mobile barriers to deploy across the country this winter before rivers breach their banks? On this evidence, the answer appears to be a resounding no.

Finally, there needs to be far more effective co-ordination between Government departments, the Environment Agency and local authorities at a regional and national level. Someone, somewhere needs to accept a degree of responsibility, starting with today’s Autumn Statement where previous funding commitments are set to be recycled. Just because Britain had a lucky escape this week does not absolve Ministers of responsibility. Quite the opposite. As the tide of public anger and worry rises again, they need to heed this wake-up call and make sure the country is even more prepared when the next storm arrives.

China challenge: Vote of confidence in Sheffield

AT least Chinese investors appear to have more faith in Sheffield city centre’s future economic potential than David Cameron’s government which was all for closing the regional office of the then Department of Business, Industry and Skills earlier this year?

The South Yorkshire city’s burgeoning partnership with the Sichuan Guodong Group can only be beneficial if Sheffield is to compete with regional national and international rivals. Its leaders can’t afford to wait for Government handouts that might never come; they have to be more proactive if they are to attract new jobs in sufficient numbers.

However, it’s important that opportunities are not just restricted to the heart of Sheffield where the proposed HS2 station could kickstart other regeneration opportunities if and when high-speed rail comes to fruition.

Irrespective of whether South Yorkshire gains its own super-mayor next year, or not, more needs to be done to create jobs and employment opportunities in those areas which remain blighted by above-average levels of poverty. Perhaps the Chinese can provide some advice on how to speed up the construction of those infrastructure projects which have the potential to make a genuine difference.

Twitter diplomacy: Farage and his Trump card

IF Donald Trump believes that Nigel Farage’s negotiating skills are so vital to the future of the supposed ‘special relationship’ between the United States and Great Britain, why does the President-elect not appoint the interim Ukip leader as America’s next ambassador to this country?

This would be within the gift of the incoming president, who made the unhelpful suggestion during one of his late-night Twitter rants which appear to be Mr Trump’s concept of diplomacy. It’s not his prerogative, however, to embarrass Theresa May and undermine Kim Darroch, the UK’s representative in Washington, in this way and before he even assumes office.

Yet, while Mr Farage will clearly milk his ‘trump card’ to intensify pressure on Mrs May over Brexit, he does admit to various failings when it comes to his diplomatic skills. The same can also be said of the leader who will, on January 20, become the most powerful man in the world.