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FARRON CALLS FOR NEW DRAINAGE SYSTEM FOR KENDAL AND BETTER EARLY WARNING TO PREVENT FUTURE FLOOD DISASTER

November 23, 2009 12:00 AM

Speaking after Secretary of State Hilary Benn today delivered his statement on the unprecedented floods in Cumbria in the House of Commons, Mr Farron praised the efforts of the emergency services as well as voluntary organisations, which as of yesterday afternoon had raised £140,000 for the flood relief fund. Mr Farron spoke in his capacity as local MP but also as Mr Benn's shadow as Environment Secretary

Mr Farron warned that lessons must be learnt from the devastating floods, and called on the Government to compel water companies to upgrade drainage systems including the one serving Kendal and Burneside and to take necessary measures to prevent insurance companies from hiking up insurance premiums in the affected areas. He also criticised the lack of targeted early warning last Thursday in Kendal, Burneside, Staveley, Bowness and Ambleside.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"Since Thursday morning I have visited residents and businesses in Kendal, Burneside, Staveley, Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside. In each place I have visited I've found people who are both devastated by the floods and determined to work together and refuse to be cowed by the devastation.

"In many of these cases, floods were caused by a drainage system which is seriously under capacity. Given the immense profits of water companies, it is vital that the Government compel them to upgrade drainage systems as a matter of urgency.

"After the floods in 2007, some residents in Cheltenham saw their insurance excesses rise from £100 to £10,000. The Government must intervene to ensure that insurance companies do not respond to this disaster by massively increasing the insurance excesses.

"People in Burneside and Kendal were not warned in advance, despite the fact that the technology exists to do so. It's not acceptable that people in Burneside were texted an 'early warning' message six hours after their homes had gone under water!

"As parts of Bowness remain under water, and having visited businesses yesterday in Ambleside, Mr Farron also emphasised the importance of visitors continuing to back the Lake District economy.

"The floods have been devastating for businesses and residents in South Lakeland but the indefatigable spirit of our community means the Lake District is very much open for business. This week has made me very proud to be Cumbrian."