A FLOOD funding boost of £500,000 has been allocated for river dredging by Somerset County Council.

It brings the total the council is planning to offer to fight flooding to £1m and follows a mini flood summit held on January 15.

As reported last week, the council has already offered £300,000 for dredging, and £200,000 for local flood prevention schemes.

It is calling for Government and the Environment Agency to find the further £3m needed to enable a comprehensive dredging operation for the Rivers Parrett and Tone.

Cannington Councillor Ian Dyer, whose village has experience some of the most severe flooding, said the extra funding was “a good start”.

He told the Mercury: “We have been doing a lot of flood prevention work ourselves and although we haven’t cured it, we’ve made a hell of a difference. Even though the water did get very high, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

“But the River Parrett needs dredging – that’s a fact. I’m on the Drainage Board and we commissioned a study that revealed the river can hold around 35% less in capacity than in the 1950s.

“It used to be dredged regularly about 20 years ago, but because it hasn’t been maintained, dredging will be a bigger job.

“We need proper maintenance and action now.”

SCC held a crisis meeting with Dan Rogerson, Minister for Water and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency.

Council leader John Osman said: “The Minister listened to our case and saw for himself the extent of the flooding.

“He has promised to take up our case and we have agreed to a further meeting in Whitehall to continue to fight for significant investment.

“He agrees that Somerset has had two years of severe flooding, which puts it ahead of any other claims for help and support.”

Support the council’s ‘Fair Funding for Somerset’ campaign at www.facebook.com/fairerfundingforsomerset or use the hashtag #fairerfundingforsomerset on Twitter.