Thursday, 28 January 2016

Tories apply common sense to a funding issue...

… but only for the little people in 'the regions':

HOMEOWNERS* living in flood-hit areas could be forced to pay higher council tax adding insult to injury to thousands of homes devastated this winter by rising waters…

Environment Secretary Liz Truss said Somerset, where local authorities have been able to increase taxes 1.25 per cent to bolster defences, is a "very good" model" in evidence to MPs.

In total, six authorities are allowed to bump up council tax by 1.25 per cent above the cap of two per cent in 2016-17. But now it looks as though the scheme could be rolled out further.

When asked by MPs, Ms Truss said: "I think if you look at the structure for the Somerset Rivers Authority that now has the shadow precept so they are raising that funding locally and I think there's also a role for that as well. I think the Somerset Rivers Authority is a very good model."

… But Labour peer Lord Clark of Windermere said: "Flood defences are primarily a national responsibility and the Government shouldn't just pass the buck on to local authorities and in turn to local taxpayers."

Obviously, if it were a question of flood defences for London and the Home Counties, the Tories would probably see it as a "national responsibility", but there you go.

* Tenants pay Council Tax too, you know?


DBC Reed said...

There is a lot of peat in the Somerset levels and with its profitable removal you could flood the whole lot and produce a western version of the Norfolk Broads.Keeping these farmers in business when a lot of them are below the level of the rivers they pump into seems a waste of money.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC, if the farmers are prepared to pay for it, then it's fine by me.

Bayard said...

"Keeping these farmers in business when a lot of them are below the level of the rivers they pump into seems a waste of money"

The Dutch obviously don't think like that.

DBC Reed said...

@B Fair point.
However a lot of the Fenland soil ,drained by Dutch engineers, shrank after it dried out so ended up below the rivers which pass through,then began to blow away so that now they're down to the nasty substratum.That could be rewilded with the old meres and swamps where the Anglo Saxons used to hide out in settlements of huts on piles linked by causeways.
On the other hand the Thames Estuary should be polderised with lagoon and outer Thames barrier with road and railway on top for London development instead of the Green belt: plus the original airport planned for Maplin or on an island served by the road and rail links.

Bayard said...

At the time, I went along with the "Great White Elephant of Maplin Sands" meme, but in hindsight, it turns out it would have been a good idea. The cost pales into insignificance compared to what the Great British Government has wasted on this and that in the intervening years.

Bayard said...

"then began to blow away so that now they're down to the nasty substratum."

AFAIK, that was because of a modern change from mixed agriculture to purely arable. In the C18th and C19th, it wasn't a problem as they practiced crop rotation.

DBC Reed said...

@B The Drained fens: the Great Fen website says that they started pumping from 1685 onwards because the land was shrinking so quickly .
They also say that the meres increased 400% in land value by being drained: I should think so too, being underwater otherwise!!
The Maplin plan was well advanced when they pulled the plug on it amidst a transitory financial panic fanned by Labour.The island-in-the-middle-of-estuary idea kept alive by Marinair before being hi-jacked by Kit Malthouse, Boris's henchman,is better for being able to take spoil and waste from London and for reinforcing an outer Thames Barrier with road and rail links coming across Thames to Channel Tunnel HS railway.