THE Army has been called out in York, Leeds, and parts of Lancashire after flood defences failed. In the case of York the Foss flood barrier was lifted and a part of the city was sacrificed when the River Ouse and River Foss came together to produce a massive flooding of a huge area.
Hundreds of people have now been advised to quit the area with a further 1400 properties under threat from the wall of water. Elsewhere, parts of Manchester – the capital of the north, in the top three of English cities and the would be capital of Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ – were under fast flowing water.
Environment minister Liz Truss admitted it was ‘right to say’ flood defences had been ‘overwhelmed’.
She should have added that the overwhelming would not have taken place without the assistance of massive government cuts and its austerity programmes that have seen the Department of the Environment decimated and the Fire and Rescue Services slashed to pieces.
Prime Minister, David Cameron, is to visit some of the flood-affected areas, to see the results of his governments savage criminal cuts. FBU EC member for Yorkshire and Humberside Ian Murray told News Line yesterday: ‘Cuts to the fire and rescue service have affected our ability to respond to these extreme conditions.
‘The cuts make it more difficult to respond to the demands of such disasters. The Environment Agency funding has been cut as well. The number of flood defence workers has been cut. As far as we are concerned they should make it a statutory duty to provide adequate funding for the fire and rescue service. That is what we are campaigning for.’
Earlier this month, the GMB, the union for staff at the Environment Agency, commented on a warning from MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee that spending on flood defences at the Environment Agency should not be cut.
Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer, said: ‘GMB members at the Environment Agency still do not know what day to day spending on maintenance of flood defences from 2016/17 onwards will be. This is apart from the scrapping of hundreds of flood defences due to cuts in spending. As things stand the number of staff who will be available to deal with flooding out of hours is due to fall. There will be a meeting in mid-January 2016 to discuss how many jobs will be cut and where.’
He slammed ‘the foolhardy stupidity of the government cutting spending on the Environment Agency. It is quite simply penny wise and pound foolish to make any cuts that affects any of the Agency’s vital functions, or cuts the jobs of those who carry them out’.
On Saturday, Lancashire bore the brunt of the flooding, along with parts of Yorkshire, areas of Greater Manchester, including Salford, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale and Wigan, were badly affected by flooding, with more than 300 flood-related calls to the fire service in 24 hours.
The Corbyn-led Labour Party has a duty to working people to demand that the Cameron government resign immediately because of the living hell that his government’s cuts have helped to create. The TUC trade unions need to take action to protect the homes and lives of their members and of all working people.
They must call a general strike to bring down a government that is only good at cutting and closing vital services, and to bring in a workers government and socialism. The health and safety of the population depends on the Tories being kicked out and all of the cuts and closures imposed on waterway services and the Fire and Rescue Services be restored to bring back real flood prevention and a real flood defence programme.
The cash to carry out this essential task can be easily acquired through the nationalisation of the banks and the major industries, and the cancellation of the ‘mutually assured destruction’ Trident Programme, with its £40bn of costs!
Britain is a rich country, but its wealth is in the hands of its ruling class, a tiny handful of the people. Only a workers government that begins with the needs of the majority of the population, not the needs of a gang of the super rich, can put right what is wrong with the UK!