Monday, 6 February 2012

Talk doesn't do the job:  we need action from our so-called leaders

Our report last week on the announcement that Boston is the worst flood risk area in the country produced a number of comments from readers.
Perhaps the most pertinent summed up the problems faced by householders trying to get cover at a reasonable cost.
“I  e-mailed the Association of British Insurers to find out why we have been placed at the top of this list,” said the writer. “Their answer was ‘contact the Environment Agency'. No explanation was offered.
“I followed the link that they kindly forwarded to me to be faced with the map that you showed (see below.)
"I zoomed in as far as I could go so as to locate the area in which I live, and clicked on the map as instructed to find out if I were in a low, moderate or significant area for flooding, and was quite amazed to see that I was classed as a low area (according to the Environment Agency, it would have to be extreme circumstances for me to flood). 
“However, they did point out that I  lived on a flood plain and they could not predict what the weather would throw at us.
“I am, however, extremely annoyed with the insurance industry who last year told me that as I was in a high risk area they were bumping my annual premium up to almost £1000 (it had previously been between £300 and £500) - although eventually I did manage to get it through another provider at a much cheaper rate.
“I fear that this year - now we have topped yet another poll -  I will be back to square one of fighting to get reasonably-priced insurance for a home that has never flooded.
The ABI cannot be allowed to get away with this con that they have going.
We do not flood and should not be at the top of this list.
“I feel sure that year on year there are places in this country that regularly feature as having flooded 'again'. Surely one of these places would be top of any such list as it has already happened to them.
“I have also emailed Mark Simmonds (MP for Boston and Skegness) to find out what he intends to do to help this sham be rectified - but alas, as yet, he has not graced me with a reply.”
Mr Simmonds’s response in a local newspaper report “to reassure” residents, that he was “committed to ensuring that flood insurance remains widely available to residents throughout Boston and Skegness” and that DEFRA was continuing to work with the insurance industry to this effect.
“Further announcements will be made in the spring but, in the meantime, the Government is working hard to make sure that the UK is better prepared than ever before to deal with a major flood."
That, of course, is not the same thing as addressing which areas are likely to flood and ensuring that those that are not can obtain cover at a fair price.
In a statement issued after the  reports appeared, Boston Borough Council said that officers met with Mr Simmonds, who agreed to take the message to government that investment in flood defences needs to be maintained and the agreement with the ABI renewed.
But that selfsame announcement said council leader Peter Bedford had responded to the ABI warnings “that some homes in the Boston area may have difficulty obtaining insurance when a government agreement ends next year.”
Slightly more than some, wethinks – the number quoted was 7,550 homes in Boston and Skegness.
Avoiding mention of the true number in no way ameliorates the severity of the problem.
According to Councillor Bedford, those facing difficulty in getting insurance should “use local brokers who understand the local situation and have companies more than willing to offer insurance at a sensible rate.”
Having tried this ourselves and signally failed – we (and others we know who have looked very far afield for quotes,) think that it would be helpful if Councillor Bedford were to share the names of those companies with the people of the borough.
The insurers would win increased business because their rates were so "sensible” and in turn would encourage les autres to review their charges – producing benefits all round for the people of Boston. Somehow, though, we doubt that Councillor Bedford will name names – as we feel that they are not to be found.
Two and a half years ago, Boston Borough Council – then led by the BBI (now the BDI) cobbled together a sort of petition calling for funding for flood risk management to be increased to a level which allows new projects to provide a standard of protection nearer to that of Holland, and for a council delegation to present this resolution to an "appropriate minister" at Westminster.
What happened we don’t know – but whilst there is certainly much by way of waffle about the flooding issue, there seems little that could be called positive.
For some reason, it seems to be a nettle that our local rulers are reluctant to grasp.

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1 comment:

  1. Further to my comment last week (many thanks for airing my comments) I thought you may find this interesting.

    I, along with presumably many others in our town under water, have received a leaflet from Anglian Water stating that they will be forcing water meters on us in the near future.

    Aparently they are doing this because (and I quote word for word from their leaflet) 'Our metering programme is an important part of our plan to manage resources in one of the country's driest areas'...

    Most likely to flood in the whole of the country - driest area in the whole of the country....and I the only one getting mixed messages??