UK & World News

  • 8 February 2014, 2:26

Cameron Pledges Help To Flood-Hit Somerset

David Cameron has told residents of flood-hit Somerset that mistakes were made in the past which have contributed to the crisis.

Speaking following widespread criticism of the Government's response to the crisis, the Prime Minister said it was "wrong" to stop dredging in the Levels in the 1990s, adding: "We need to get dredging again."

His first visit to the region since the floods began late last year came after that of Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith, who insisted he was very proud of the body's work.

"Clearly people here faced a tough time and continue to face a tough time and that's why we've got to do everything we can to help," Mr Cameron said as he visited a flooded farm in Fordgate.

"Everything that can be done, will be done and I'll make sure that happens. There are always lessons to learn and I'll make sure they are learned.

"I've said that when the water-levels are down and it's safe to dredge, to make sure that these rivers and these ditches can carry a better capacity of water."

Mr Cameron wore wellington boots as he walked round Tony Davy's farm and met fire service workers pumping from the property.

He described the scene at the frarm, where the water was knee-high, as "biblical".

The Prime Minister then visited evacuated residents at a private meeting in nearby Bridgwater.

Royal Marines were earlier drafted in to help people in Moorlands to safety after flood defences broke on Thursday night.

Lord Smith attempted to brush of criticism of the handling of the flooding, telling reporters: "I have no intention of resigning. I'm very proud of the work of the Environment Agency and its staff in the face of the most extreme weather."

"Local people have made very clear the distress they've experienced and the difficulties they've been facing."

He also said an extra ú130m pledged by the Government would make a significant difference and that dredging would begin as soon as flood waters recede.

But local ConservativeáMP Ian Liddell-Grainger called the Environment Agency boss a "coward" and said he had not been given any details of the visit.

"I will tell him what I bloody well think of him - he should go, he should walk," he said.

"I'm livid. This little git has never even been on the telephone to me. When I find out where he is, I will give it to him."

Meanwhile, England's southern coastline looks likely to suffer more flooding as forecasters warn of large waves and strong winds.

Devon and Dorset coasts have already suffered major damage after being pummelled by the week's storms.

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