SOMERSET County Council is planning to spend £1million on dredging rivers and flood prevention schemes across the county.
The latest announcement from a mini flood summit meeting sees the council propose a £500,000 funding boost, bringing their overall total to a seven-figure sum.
They have also launched a social media campaign to try to get more help from central government as parts of the county remain underwater almost five weeks after the torrential rains began.
Council leader John Osman said: “This extra funding, at a time of extremely challenging finances for the council, is a clear indication of how determined we are to stand up for residents and small businesses who have been devastated by flooding, not once, but twice in just over a year.”
The council had already coughed up £300,000 for dredging, and £200,000 for local flood prevention schemes, making the total of £1m – with a rallying call for Government and the Environment Agency to ‘dig into their own pockets’ and find the further £3m needed to enable a comprehensive dredging operation for the Rivers Parrett and Tone.
The offer came as leading councillors and officers held a crisis meeting with Dan Rogerson – Minister for Water and Rural Affairs. Also invited were MPs, the Environment Agency and representatives of other councils and voluntary groups.
Cllr Osman added: “The Minister listened to our case – which I feel is very strong – 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.”
“It is important we are all on the same side to have the best chance of success. This is about working together to help people pick up their lives once the flood waters recede.
“At the moment we have a community at Muchelney completely cut off, we have a main road impassable through the middle of the county, we have a damaged road bridge, we have thousands of acres of farmland under water – all this means we have many, many people and businesses whose lives are being ruined. We must get the government to act and to act quickly.”
People can register their backing by "liking" a Facebook page it has set up called Fairer Funding for Somerset or comment on Twitter using the hashtag #fairerfundingforsomerset