Category Archives: Government 2020

Flooding: Environment Agency, food security, wildlife and the PM’s advice

Camilla Hodgson reports that ten English authorities with the highest number of homes at serious flood risk plan to build homes in what the government considers “high-risk” areas. Almost 35,000 are planned – and more in lower-risk flood zones, according to local planning documents analysed by the FT.

Council planning officers at both Fenland and Hull councils said the risk of flooding must be balanced against the importance of economic growth.

Robert Muir-Wood, chief research officer at catastrophe risk modelling company Risk Management Solutions warns of several hazards, including:

  • the failure to consider insurance during the planning process, so that some homes end up being uninsurable or very expensive to protect;
  • councils’ inability to afford to monitor the installation of planned mitigation measures – such as raising the height of the electrics in new housing
  • and that currently developers bear no further responsibility for properties after they are sold.

in November The Lincolnite reported that more than 5,000 homes have been proposed in high-risk zones of Lincolnshire, where roads and thousands of acres of farmland were flooded with some farms being totally marooned.

Andrew Ward, one of the affected farmers, described the ‘horrendous’ damage: “Potatoes, sugar beet and maize have been ruined and the loss of wildlife will be colossal here, all of their habitats will be ruined.”

He complains that the Environment Agency are using farmland as flood plains to prevent flooding in Lincoln: “The rivers need to be dredged but we haven’t ever seen it happen here”. The Environment Agency has insisted that it does carry out regular and ongoing maintenance and blamed problems on the heavy rainfall. See video link

On the campaign trail in flood-hit Derbyshire, the prime minister said: “We’ve got to stop building on flood plains. We’ve got to stop building on areas which are vulnerable to flooding.”

In due course this statement should be fact-checked.






A challenge for Her Majesty’s opposition: holding the “people’s government” to account

A Hall Green reader has drawn attention to William Davies’ Guardian article (Dec. 13th), in which he points out that the election was not won by an ordinary political party, with policies, members and ideology. It was won by a single-issue, new-media startup. You might call it the Vote Boris campaign – fronted by a TV star and funded by hedge funds and wealthy British entrepreneurs who donated heavily to Vote Leave. Davies asks: “But who knows what they will get in return?”

Edited extracts

“Get Brexit done”, like Donald Trump’s “build a wall”, was a mantra with which those who think the establishment is a stitch-up could identify.

For the desperate men and women living in the abandoned economic regions of the Midlands and north only a Trump figure would be enough to draw them to the polls and the chances of the 2016 referendum result offering anything transformative to the former Labour voters of Blyth Valley or Bolsover, beyond the occasional culture-war titbit, are minimal.

Johnson did just enough to convince former Brexit party voters that he was on their side and his dog whistles hit home for well-off elderly voters, seduced by Faragist visions of national identity.

By the end of the campaign, he was performing a kind of Jeremy Clarkson role – obliterating any democratic dialogue or interrogation by driving a forklift truck or dressing up as a milkman.

As milkman, Boris Johnson attracted some less than respectful comments – see the New European

The Johnson government had an unprecedented relationship with the media during the campaign:

  • threatening public service broadcasters,
  • excluding the Daily Mirror from its campaign bus,
  • enjoying seamless coordination with the conservative press,
  • using “Boris” to distract from every unwelcome news item,

If the new government maintains that relationship it will be virtually impossible for it to be held to account. Just like Trump, Johnson’s capacity to make headlines and change the subject means the damage he has done is forgotten and we are locked in a perpetual present, arguing over the details of what he’s doing right now.

Can we expect the rebranded “people’s government” – with its proven smoke and mirrors dexterity – to embrace normal democratic scrutiny? Challenging this juggernaut will be a large and complex project for Her Majesty’s opposition.

Read William Davies’ article here.