UK & World News

  • 20 February 2014, 10:18

Wales 'Left Out' Of Govt Floods Clean-Up Cash

The mayor of a flood-hit Welsh town has said the Government must do more to help those across the UK after it emerged funds pledged by the Prime Minster are only for communities in England.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minster announced "money is no object" when it comes to dealing with the flooding that has forced hundreds of people from their homes.

Sky News has learnt that measures announced by the Government, including the fund for farmers, the 5,000 pledged for homes and businesses, business rate relief and council tax relief, apply only to England.

In Wales, flood relief is the responsibility of the Welsh Government.

Downing Street says it will look at any application made by the Welsh Government for more help.

The Mayor of Rhyl, where 130 homes flooded in December, said the pledge from the Prime Minister raised the hopes of many of the residents still unable to move back to their flood-damaged homes, only to find out it does not apply to them.

Andrew Rutherford told Sky News: "There's all this money that's now going to be made available ... is that just ring-fenced for England because it's now hit down the Thames area?

"Yes we know it's bad, flooding for anybody is really bad, but if they're going to say 'well, okay, here's an endless pot of money'... are they going to pass that round to the other countries in the UK that have been equally affected?"

The majority of people affected in Rhyl were pensioners living in seaside bungalows.

Even as the sea defences broke, Kathleen Williams, 75, and her partner Gerald Woolliscroft had hoped to stay in their bungalow, which they chose as their "dream retirement home".

Volunteers from the RNLI urged them to leave but they stayed until it was no longer safe.

Along with their cat, Jet, they were brought out of their home in a lifeboat. Even now, work has barely begun to repair their home.

Downstairs there are no floorboards, leaving the joists exposed. It is cold and damp.

They have to trust their insurers are doing all they can. In the meantime they are staying in a caravan.

Kathleen told Sky News she is constantly worried about money and whether they will get insurance again after moving back in.

"Everything you've worked for and everything you've got has just gone" she said.

Another resident, John Cantrill, who retired to Rhyl with his wife June, says they are not sure they want to stay because of the fear it might flood again.

"You went from having a home, a car, lovely garden, everything to nothing within 15 minutes," he said.

Sky News understands the Welsh government has found it "unhelpful" that David Cameron had not made the position on funding for flood victims clear sooner - despite a visit to Pembrokeshire on Wednesday.

Speaking after that visit, the Minister for Natural Resources, Alun Davies, said: "I am encouraged to see the Prime Minister visiting Pembrokeshire today to see at first hand how we have successfully managed the impact of flooding in Wales.

"We have noted with interest his suggestion that there may be further financial support available to help with the clean-up.

"We assume that as the PM chose to make this announcement in Pembrokeshire, not England, there will be additional funding for Wales and our officials are following this up as a matter of urgency.

"We would want to make sure extra funding is used to best fit local circumstances."

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