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Shropshire Star comment: Homes, lives and businesses will be blighted by flooding unless Government intervenes

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

The flooding that continues to cause serious disruption across the region has proved to be far more serious than anticipated.

Flooding in Coleham, Shrewsbury. Photo: Owain Betts

Understandably questions are being asked about the state of our flood defences and whether, as a nation, we have the resources, technical skill and wherewithal to protect residents from flooding.

The issue appears to boil down to whether the Government is willing to invest in flood defences that can meet increasingly challenging circumstances. It is a question of will, priorities and policy.

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The events of the last few days have left a trail of devastation. Ordinary residents could face months of disruption as they seek to get back to normal. Floors, walls and furnishings have been destroyed, lives have been turned upside down. Businesses face substantial losses and some may not survive.

We should not overlook the remarkable work of our emergency services. Nor should we ignore the first class voluntary efforts by people on the ground. Kind-hearted friends, neighbours and relatives have rallied to support those work affected, shipping sandbags, moving possessions, slopping out water and going above and beyond the call of duty.

Our emergency services have shown why they are considered among the best in the world as they have endured torrid conditions to help people. They have worked long, hard hours in appalling conditions to safeguard our communities.

But as we have said before, more must be done. The United Kingdom is one of the most developed nations on earth and boasts one of the richest economies. Substantial resources have helped to protect homes in our region that would otherwise have been submerged.

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And yet as the events of recent days have demonstrated, we must redouble our efforts. As the climate continues to change, new investment must be found, new defences built. It is neither acceptable nor tolerable for people to suffer such disruption. Homes, lives and businesses will be blighted unless the Government intervenes.

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It is heartening news that employment is at a record high.

Our economy is well placed to capitalise on whatever benefits Brexit might bring, it is sufficiently robust to withstand whatever challenges our departure from the EU might create.

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This region well remembers what it is like to suffer high levels of unemployment. A generation ago, when unemployment was at more than three million, many families were destroyed and lives bespoiled as people found themselves on the scrapheap. A remarkable transformation has taken place and now most people have a job.

There is more work to be done, of course. The nation needs to rebalance its economy by creating more jobs in wealth-creating manufacturing positions, rather than only focusing on service industries. And the West Midlands is well placed to mount that drive; it already has a huge number of industries and conditions are right to attract more.

Our businesses now need to move forward, making our workforce increasingly productive, ensuring people are paid fairly and that there are good working conditions and rights for staff.

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