doc

PRIME Minister David Cameron visited flood hit communities in Somerset again this afternoon (February 19) - but has said real work cannot begin until water levels drop.

He visited local MPs, including Tessa Munt and Ian Liddell Grainger and spoke with farmers and residents.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, the PM said: “There’s already a plan in place, but we need to get the maps out and look at which areas are getting flooded and see what more, over and above the plans, can be done.

“As the water recedes we will be able to see what needs to be done and what flood prevention measures have proved a success in order to replicate them. But all that can be done will be done.”

This week the PM unveiled a £10 million business support scheme which will be made available to local councils to support small businesses in areas affected by flooding since December 2013.

But at today’s press conference Cameron said: “There is already money that is being spent by the Environment Agency. The £10million – that’s for future work.

“But people shouldn’t think that’s the limit of what will be done, and that’s going to involve dredging.”

But when asked about his promise that “money is no object” the PM said: “I was referring to the flood relief operation; this includes all aspects of relief, from extra sandbags to bringing in the armed forces.

“But we will spend what is necessary and will reimburse councils.”

He said “tens of millions” have already been set aside for flood prevention work in the South West, including Somerset.

Cameron said the purpose of today’s visit was to allow him to see the new pumping solution in action, adding: “It’s been difficult because there’s such a large amount of water, but it’s good to see progress is being made.”

When asked about whether the drainage boards would be chosen as the main authority behind delivering a flood prevention action plan, he said: “We have to wait until the plan appears but it’s got to be a plan that incorporates many organisations, Government action, and the drainage boards will be a key aspect.”

He was also quizzed by journalists on the mystery three-month absence of Somerset County Council chief executive Sheila Wheeler during one of the biggest disasters the county has faced.

The PM replied: “That’s for SCC to sort out. I don’t want people to be in any doubt about who is in charge.

“Gold and Silver command have been working together to bring in other agencies and I think they have been handling this extremely well.”