Government must do better on floods, say public
by William Jordan in Front Page and Politics
Sun February 9, 2014 7:24 a.m. GMT
A new poll for the Sunday Times shows high dissatisfaction with the government’s flood response
Following yet another day of rain and gales hammering Southern UK, a new YouGov poll for the Sunday Times reveals widespread disapproval of the government’s response to the flooding. The survey also finds a growing number of people who want more money spent on flood defenses.
Only 25% think the prime minister has responded well to the recent flooding, while more than six in ten think he has done badly. In comparison, 41% say David Cameron is doing generally well ‘as Prime Minister’ (52% say he is doing badly).
David Cameron gets his worst marks with Labour and UKIP supporters, around three quarters of whom are critical of his response to the flooding, but 40% of Conservatives and 49% of Lib Dems also think he’s responded badly.
The prime minister visited the flood-hit Somerset Levels for the first time on Friday, after much of the survey had been conducted.
Disapproval of the government response to the flooding, which has come mostly during England’s wettest January in 250 years, does not stop at the door of Number 10.
64% of Britons think the Environment Agency has responded badly as well. Only 24% think the agency, the authority principally responsible for flood management, has responded well.
And increasingly, the public want the government to spend more on flood preparedness. 49% of British adults, up from 38% just last week, say the government should spend more on flood defenses, even if this means tax rises or bigger cuts elsewhere. And now just 26% think the govenment is already spending 'as much as it can reasonably afford' on flood defences, down from 36% at the end of January.
The chairman of the Environment Agency, Chris Smith, faced harsh criticisms from locals during his own recent visit to Somerset, where many people are furious he agency did not do more to help. Lord Smith also replied to calls for his resignation, saying he had “no intention” to do so.
On this question the public is divided: 29% want Lord Smith to resign; 31% say he should remain in his role.
The Environment Agency currently has three ‘severe’ flood warnings issued, for flood cases posing ‘danger to life’. The warnings affect Chiswell, Salt Moor and North Moor, and the A361 from East Lying to Burrowbridge.