Flood defence work now urgent
EXETER'S MP says it is vital that work to improve the city's flood defences is undertaken as soon as possible.
And the leader of the city council says the Environment Agency should call an urgent meeting to discuss the way forward. The comments from MP Ben Bradshaw, pictured, follow the decision by Devon's Cabinet to put aside £3m for improved flood defences for the city. This matches the £3m already pledged by the city council to protect Exeter.
The total cost of the scheme is £25m. The agency would provide £13m, leaving £6m to be found from the private sector.
Devon's environment chiefs have said that the improved defences are needed urgently because of the "very significant risk of future flooding".
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Mr Bradshaw told the Echo: "I welcome the fact that Devon has pledged to match Exeter's contribution but this still leaves us with a big shortfall because of the huge cut in Government support for flood defences.
"Exeter is the Westcountry's top priority in terms of the dangers and number of homes and businesses at risk. It is vital this work proceeds apace. The Government must recognise the seriousness of the situation and resolve the funding gap as a matter of urgency, I will be putting pressure on them to act the sooner the better."
Pete Edwards, leader of the city council, said: "The agency should call an urgent meeting of both councils, the private sector and other big players like South West Water so that we can thrash out the next step. I think the Government should contribute more – it has handed issues like this on to local government but at the same time it has cut our budget by 20 per cent. Exeter's economy is growing compared to the rest of the country and we would lose all of that if the city floods.
A spokesman for agency said: "The agency is continuing discussions at officer level with both local authorities and is encouraged by Devon County Council's decision to contribute £3m towards improvements to Exeter's flood defences. There's been no loss of momentum and if anything, the level of discussions has increased since the funding announcement."