As floods subside, anger rises at lack of UK Government assistance in cleanup effort

Cleaning up in Pontypridd. Photo by Gavin Reardon

Mark Mansfield

Anger is mounting at the lack of assistance from the UK Government as large swathes of Wales continue to clear up the flood damage caused by Storm Dennis and Storm Ciara.

Natalie Pascoe, who is coordinating volunteers and donors in Rhondda Cynon Taf, where over 1,000 properties have been affected, said there was a perception that Wales was being treated differently to parts of England flooded before the election.

She pointed to the fact that the army had been deployed in Yorkshire to help with the clean-up after flooding there. An emergency Cobra meeting was also held to coordinate action over the floods that hit Yorkshire and the east Midlands in November.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hasn’t visited any of the areas affected by flooding or made any comment from where he is staying at Chevening, a government-owned historic property near Sevenoaks.

“The Westminster Government has done nothing,” Natalie Pascoe said. “Jeremy Corbyn showed his face in Pontypridd yesterday, I understand he is not in the government, and Prince Charles is going today but that’s nothing. They haven’t done anything.

“Boris Johnson, as far as I’m aware, hasn’t even mentioned it. There have been no armed forces out helping people. It’s all been left to volunteers – local residents helping each other.

“The community spirit up there is amazing but everything else has been left to volunteers and teams of people who are taking time out of their day, letting their business and their work and their family life be affected to go and help other people.

“For whatever reason that is, and I’m sure some of us have got good ideas about that, it is very apparent that the other incidents in the north of England happened just before an election. The actual government itself is just not there.”

Welsh Office Minister and Monmouthshire MP David Davies last night defended the UK Government. In a interview on Channel 4 News in which he accused interviewer Cathy Newman of asking “outrageous questions”, he said that it wasn’t for the Prime Minister to become involved.

“It is a devolved issue and myself and the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart are very sensitive to the accusations […] that we’re trying to ride roughshod over the devolution settlement,” he said.

“We are not responsible for the health service, or for education, or for flood defences in Wales. And we understand that.”

Interviewer Cathy Newman said: “Well the Welsh government has come to you and asked for funding from the Treasury. How much will they get and when?”

“Well first of all the First Minister of Wales has said he will release £10m in funding. That isn’t going to go very far at all. Now if the First Minister is looking to us to support him in getting more money out of the Westminster Government then, of course, we will be looking to do that.

“But he needs to come to use and tell us first of all how much he’s going to need and what it is going to be spent on because we have had a problem in the past where money has been passed on from the UK Government to the Welsh Government and it hasn’t been spent on what we expected it to be spent on.”

A Met Office yellow weather warning has warned of further heavy rain today and tomorrow.

 

‘Grateful’

Pentre in Rhondda Cynon Taff has been particularly hard hit having flooded for the second time in five days after a culvert collapsed.

Many residents across the south-east of Wales have seen their homes and cars destroyed and while some have been temporarily rehoused many are still living in homes that are inundated with mud and water.

Some residents had been put up in hotels in Cardiff but councils are having to find alternative accommodation with many rooms booked out by fans attending today’s rugby international between Wales and France.

Many don’t want to leave pets behind to go into temporary accommodation and are living in homes damaged by flooding. Those that left are facing six to 12 months away from home as they are cleaned up and dried out.

“There was mud everywhere,” Natalie Pascoe said. “People had pulled their furniture, mostly from downstairs into the street. It was damp and muddy and that was what it was like in people’s homes.

“There were sandbags banked up everywhere. A lot of residents weren’t home but some were. I understand the local chip shop had been feeding them as well as the Salvation Army in Pentre, who’d been going out with sandwiches and things like that.”

“These people are so grateful for your help. It’s really touching and that’s when you realise you are doing good. We have had residents crying. It’s a situation you can’t believe is happening on your own doorstep.”

Appeal

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said the damage in Pentre could cost up to £5m and has called on Natural Resources Wales to set up a multi-million-pound compensation fund.

In the meantime, donations of food, cleaning products, furniture and cash are needed as the largely volunteer-run groups, helping victims of the floods, come under severe pressure.

Trallwn community centre has been a hub for coordinating flood relief activities and has been supplying sandwiches to over 500 affected homes but they are running out of food and money today and need to help buy more bread, fillings, sandwich bags, clingfilm and cash to pay for the transport of supplies to the surrounding areas.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant has also set up an appeal for help to raise funds to help people who have been affected and has raised over £22,000 so far. Contributions can be made here.

Rhondda AM Leanne Wood has raised close to £7,000 from her appeal set up this week and contributions can be made here.

Independence campaign group Yes Cymru have also raised over £5,000. Contributions can be made here.

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John YoungTudor ReesSteve DugganHuw DaviesGaynor Recent comment authors
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John Ellis
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John Ellis

When Bunter was electioneering he took himself to the post-flood Don valley in south Yorkshire to show willing. Perhaps, since politicians campaign in poetry, he felt he had to. Even so, I recall that his visit wasn’t wholly well received by the locals, and newsfilm of him ineffectively shoving dirty water round a plastic-tiled floor with a saturated mop simply emphasized the futility of an essentially cosmetic and gesture-political exercise. Presumably now, governing in prose with his parliamentary majority assured, he calculates that he doesn’t need to bother with such visits, particularly given their propensity to backfire. And if my… Read more »

j humphrys
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j humphrys

Good post, cheered us up a bit! But wait, he could be playing with his trains? Important stuff.

Gaynor
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Gaynor

Bus, his bus

j humphrys
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j humphrys

YES CYMRU have a funding campaign ongoing, if one wishes to give.

Jonathan Gammond
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Jonathan Gammond

I am sure the people in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire to name four flooded areas would disagree with the remark: “there was a perception that Wales was being treated differently to parts of England flooded before the election.”. People right across England and Wales (and elsewhere in Europe and the wide world e.g. Bangladesh) are suffering from the effects of increasing flooding. Both the UK and the Welsh Government have struggled with the issue of river management for years and generally have been failing to keep up with changes in the environment and the climate. Quoting a couple of… Read more »

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

“Both the UK and the Welsh Government have struggled with the issue of river management for years and generally have been failing to keep up with changes in the environment and the climate.” That’s a very polite way of putting it. Bluntly, they and many local authorities haven’t a bloody clue. They make bad decisions which they are later slow to remedy. When they select a workable solution they often fail to see the work through to conclusion so we end with half soaked ( not a pun) remedies. Most sick was to see on one news report from a… Read more »

Huw J Davies
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Huw J Davies

I’m not a fan of celebrity visits to disaster zones. What are they going to do? Don overalls and fix it all? Are we meant to feel better because some royal personage or big name politician has set foot on our damp soil? We all know it is just for show. Boris isn’t an expert on flood repair and a visit from him would have been a waste of time and security. At least Winston Churchill could have rebuilt a decent brick wall! I dare say if Boris had turned up, slipped on his arse getting out of the limo,… Read more »

Steve Duggan
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Steve Duggan

Look, it’s time we finally realised, once and for all, that Westminster and in particular a Tory led Westminster government cares little for Wales. Its even worse now – there is technically a English nationalist party in charge. Time for change – Wales can do far far better on its own.

Tudor Rees
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Tudor Rees

In assessing the performance of the Central Government, we have to bear in mind that the Westminster politicians and civil servants are bowed down by traditions and guidelines formulated in the glorious days of the pre-victorian British Empire. The first rule is that the Empire be run on the basis that absolute priority be given at all times to the needs of the centre, based in the S.E. of England, with the needs of other colonies [including Wales and Scotland] and the remoter parts of England having lesser consideration. If the roll out of any policy encounters funding problems the… Read more »

John Young
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John Young

Who down arrowed that ? It’s what happens every day.