Many will have seen the devastating flooding following Storm Babet and the impact that has had across large parts of the country. My heart goes out to all those affected, particularly those tragic incidents where people have lost their lives.

These flooding images not only have a direct and devastating impact on those who are suffering now but will also cause great anxiety to those who have been flooded in recent years but have escaped this time.

This will be the case for many of my constituents in Prestolee who have faced similar scenes in the recent past. The area of Riverside Drive flooded back on Boxing Day 2015 and flooded some of the same houses again in February 2016. Residents have been living in fear of a recurrence every time heavy weather hits.

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Since those incidents I have been campaigning for a solution to protect the properties from a future incident, liaising with the government and Environment Agency numerous times, asking questions in Parliament and sharing the stories of the residents in the hope the government will listen and that action will be taken.

In the end, it comes back to money. Individual staff at the Environment Agency are doing what they can but the Government repeatedly refuses to adequately cover the funding for the scheme. The Environment Agency has seen a 50 per cent cut to their funding in the last 13 years under the Tories. This leaves our communities lacking even the most basic protections. We are almost a decade on and no project for Prestolee has been given the green light.

I am repeatedly informed that investigations are ongoing and options are being explored. The Government is too slow to act and it is more than likely that 10 years will pass without any sort of solution. It is hard to not feel that the properties, livelihoods and lives are not worth the cost to government.

I raised this again in Parliament on 23 October 2023 in light of the recent flooding from Storm Babet. The government minister gave no specific commitment to put in place protections for Prestolee and did not even promise that she will look at the scheme again. It is not acceptable for government to just cross their fingers and hope. Climate change will bring more unpredictable weather and more areas of our town will become at risk of flooding over the next decade. The government needs to take the seriously but I fear they don’t.