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England flooding: Labour and Lib Dems criticise response

Labour and the Lib Dems have criticised the government for its handling of severe flooding in northern England.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government’s response was “woeful” while Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson called for “long-term policy changes”.

Both have urged the prime minister to declare a “national emergency” over the floods.

Boris Johnson is to chair the government’s emergency Cobra committee later to discuss the situation.

The Environment Agency has 30 flood warnings in place as well as five severe warnings on the River Don in South Yorkshire.

About 500 homes have been flooded in Doncaster with more than 1,000 properties evacuated in areas hit by the floods.

An emergency appeal to support “displaced” families has raised more than £85,000.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for rain covering large parts of the country on Tuesday and Thursday.

It comes after downpours last week meant several areas were struck by a month’s worth of rain in a single day.

Map of towns worst affected by flooding on the River Don
Presentational white space

Hundreds of people in Fishlake, near Doncaster, have fled their homes after the village was submerged and the fire service said it was continuing to rescue people.

The next door village of Stainforth has been coming to the aid of those evacuated from their homes.

Fred Turner, 71, who has been helping at the community centre in the library, said he had been overwhelmed by the generosity of people.

He said someone handed him £100 cash for the flood relief fund, and children sold sweets they had collected for Halloween to raise money for victims.

“Those with the least to give have been the kindest,” he said.

Volunteers have been gathering food for those forced to leave their homes
Volunteers have been gathering food for those forced to leave their homes

He added that the villagers wanted the River Don to be dredged.

“It is a tidal river here, bringing in sand and silt from the Humber, and we have all the water coming off the hills around Sheffield,” he said.

“At high tides it is coming the other way too and Fishlake is in the middle.”

Speaking at a rally in Blackpool, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Conservative government’s response to the floods had “been woeful” and had only been triggered after he had written to Boris Johnson.

Mr Corbyn said: “If this had happened in Surrey instead of Yorkshire and the East Midlands, I think it would have been a very different story.”

Jeremy Corbyn with flood victims in ConisboroughJeremy Corbyn met flood victims in South Yorkshire on Saturday

Number 10 disputed this, saying the decision to hold a Cobra meeting about the response to flooding had been taken prior to the letter from Mr Corbyn.

The flooding situation at the weekend had not reached the level where a national emergency could be officially declared.

Boris Johnson visiting Matlock on 8 NovemberPrime Minister Boris Johnson visited flood-hit Matlock on Friday

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson arrived in Stainforth where she set out plans for a £5bn fund to improve flood defences across the UK.

She said: “It is wrong that it seems to be just down to the local communities, important though this work is; this is clearly a national emergency and the government should be declaring it as such.”

Jo SwinsonJo Swinson has called for “long-term policy changes” over flooding

National Farmers Union (NFU) president Minette Batters said “seismic change” was needed to tackle flooding.

She said the current situation was an “absolute disaster” for farmers and called for a “reform on how we manage water”, adding that it was a “wake-up call” for all politicians.

www.bbc.com

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