Yorkshire fire services did not tell Boris Johnson to stay away from flood-hit areas

Fire services in Yorkshire have said they did not tell the Prime Minister to stay away from areas hit by flooding during Storm Ciara last month.

Workmen clear debris from the road as floodwater began to recede in Snaith, Yorkshire. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Workmen clear debris from the road as floodwater began to recede in Snaith, Yorkshire. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The Prime Minister said on This Morning yesterday that he had been told to keep away from flood-affected areas as to not distract from the recovery effort.

He has come under criticism from Labour for not appearing, despite some local leaders saying his presence would not have been much help.

However fire and rescue services in West Yorkshire - which covers the worst, and one of the first, affected areas of Calderdale - North Yorkshire and South Yorkshire said they had not given advice to the PM to stay away.

Yesterday Mr Johnson said: “I'm obviously working round the clock on all types of things, as the Government is on the flooding. What we've been doing is making sure that homeowners get the support that they need.”

But when pushed by Philip Schofield on whether he now regretted not visiting those who had been flooded Mr Johnson said: “I'm very proud of the work that the emergency services do.

“I think it's very important actually when a flood is going on - let me give you a direct answer - they said to us what happens when you go to a flood is you arrive and everybody has to down tools, the gold command, the ambulance, the fire, everybody, the Environment Agency, they all they will meet for an hour or more to brief you when they could be getting on with the emergency.

“What we will be doing is making sure that communities get the support they need.

“They said to us, all you'll do is just distract us and disrupt the business of helping people with the immediate crisis.

“So what I was doing was directing operations, making sure that people get the Bellwin Scheme money, they get the £5,000 to which they're entitled, they get the business rate support, that they get all the cash they need, plus that we get the the flood defences we're going to need the future and we're putting £4bn into more flood defences and you know I want to see that money well spent.”

When asked today who gave the PM the advice to stay away if not the emergency services, his official spokesman said he would have been advised by the Environment Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

He said: “I think what the PM is pointing to is the fact that whenever a Prime Minister or any senior person visits a flood-affected area that obviously has consequences on the response effort and those who need to stop what they're doing to accommodate that visit.

“That was what the Prime Minister was pointing to yesterday.”

He added: “He will have received advice through Defra, the Environment Agency and others who are managing the response on the ground.”