For all too many Pendle residents, this week has been spent recovering from the flooding brought by Storm Ciara. Properties in Barrowford and Earby were affected, with several roads impassable, as we weathered the worst storm for many years. I want to put on record my thanks to the emergency services and to volunteers for their work in responding to the flooding.
On Monday, the Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick activated the emergency Bellwin scheme for those areas affected by the storm. The scheme allows councils dealing with its effects to apply for 100% of eligible costs they incur to be reimbursed by the government, covering the cost of rest centres, temporary accommodation and staff overtime.
Teams from the Environment Agency have been active supporting affected communities and working on flood defences. Although there’s much more that can be done to help prevent flooding across Pendle, the impact would have been much worse without recent flood defence work. I’m pushing for additional funding to be made available to do more to protect our area from flooding, especially Earby where very serious challenges remain.
The big news this week has been the Prime Minister coming out firmly in support of HS2, the costly but essential plan to add the capacity to our national rail network. Without this additional capacity, our regional economy will not be able to grow, with pressure continuing to build on our already crowded road and rail networks.
Alongside this announcement was good news for Northern Powerhouse Rail. A plan for rail across the north is being developed to deliver better rail links across our region – something I strongly welcome.
We also heard that £5 billion will be put into England’s bus and cycle networks outside London. I’ve campaigned for and seen the introduction of better buses into Pendle, but over the years some bus routes have been lost. There’s a need for better, more frequent bus routes right across Pendle. It would be great to see our local bus services getting better using this funding and much needed improvements for local cyclists too.