Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:44 pm on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Jonathan Reynolds Jonathan Reynolds Shadow Economic Secretary (Treasury) 1:44 pm, 4th March 2020

It is extremely good of you to call me, Mr Deputy Speaker, so that I can say a little about the issue of flooding, why it has been so important to my constituency and how it has affected us, and add my unequivocal voice to the call for more resources for this area. I also wish to say that there are some legal, technical issues that the Government need to address in respect of flooding and the management of waterways.

It is a privilege to follow Andrew Percy, who described the conditions in his constituency and how flooding affects it. I therefore wish to say a bit about the geography of my area. The towns of Stalybridge, Hyde, Dukinfield, Mossley and Longdendale are on the eastern side of Greater Manchester, at the border with Derbyshire. We are where the land has begun to rise; the great moors of Wild Bank, Harridge Pike and Hobson moor are in my constituency. People might recall that two years ago there were wildfires in that area, which tells us of the volatility of the weather patterns we are now receiving.

When we have these occasions of unprecedented rainfall—it seems to be unprecedented rainfall more often than not—the water comes down from those moors with a violence, intensity and power that has a severe impact on the communities based around those moors. In 2016 in particular, when we had severe flooding, areas such as Hollingworth, Millbrook and Micklehurst were incredibly badly affected, and not just in terms of flooding; in one case, a property was almost washed away. This is not just about flooding; it is about land and property being destroyed by the power of the floods that have hit those areas. The impact and burden on people of severe flooding is unparalleled and hard to compare with other things. One constituent told me that they had been flooded once before and so every time they are faced with significant rainfall—obviously, that is a feature of our weather patterns in Greater Manchester—they just stay up at night waiting to be flooded again. That trauma and worry—the emotional as well as the financial burden—is extreme. We have to be doing more to ease that burden on our constituents.

Since 2016, there has been a significant response in my area. I know that colleagues will talk today about how they have not had any resources at all, but we have had investment in my area. The Environment Agency has spent more than £1 million in Mossley, and my local council has spent more than £650,000. This has meant we can have things such as large screens that we can put across culverts to prevent them from getting blocked. In some cases, tunnels have been built to manage the water run-off on to highways. In one case, a culvert has been repaired and it is now monitored by CCTV 24 hours a day. However, constituents ask the reasonable question: will these measures prevent this from happening again? Of course, none of us can give that assurance, so perhaps a better question would be: has everything that could be done been done? I do not think we are there yet, so although we have had investment in my area, I know it is not enough and therefore that we need more across the country. If we multiply the investment in my area by the number of constituencies in the country, that tells us quickly that we do not yet have the level of support going into this that we all want to see.