A TRANSPORT Minister saw first hand the devastating impact of Worcestershire's floods and talked through potential solutions.
Baroness Kramer visited Worcester, Upton, Kempsey and the flood-hit Rose and Crown in Severn Stoke (now open for business) to see how the county had responded to some of the worst floods in recent memory and to talk through plans to boost the county's flood resilience in future.
As the county’s Ministerial Representative for Flood Recovery, she met with representatives from the Environment Agency and fire and rescue, Worcestershire MPs Robin Walker and Harriett Baldwin and leading councillors.
Speaking on Worcester Bridge yesterday (Friday), she said she had been impressed with how well Worcestershire coped and the plans put in place to deal with future floods. She said: "People have also stressed that the key issues in this area has been access. We have to work with local people to come up with the right answers. We have to look at those broader issues. It is often not a simple and obvious solution."
She added: “Flooding in Worcestershire had a devastating effect on many local people. I very much appreciated the opportunity to thank all those who worked so hard to minimise disruption and ensure a return to normal life as quickly as possible.
“Worcestershire is open for business as people made very clear to me today. This was also an excellent opportunity to discuss how the area might become more resilient in future.”
She had an opportunity to discuss Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership's Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) which outlines Worcestershire’s strategy for growth over the next ten years.
Worcestershire has made a bid for £280 million over the next 5-10 years in addition to the notional allocation of £58 million from European funding sources for the next five years.
Simon Geraghty, deputy leader of Worcestershire County Council, said: "I think it was a very useful visit. It was a prime opportunity to see first hand how well the various agencies had worked together to deal with the floods and the impact they had on homes, businesses and the community generally."
Potential solutions to improve Worcester's defence against flooding include raising the height of New Road (used by 35,000 vehicles per day) and dualling the Carrington Bridge (by 2020). Cllr Geraghty hopes the Government will be able to fund the bridge works as 'the last big jigsaw piece' which would follow a series of improvements to the congested Southern Link Road, something the Minister was able to see for herself. There are seven locations across Worcestershire which could benefit from £5 million schemes to increase flood resilience, including in Upton which was cut off in some directions by the floods.