MP meets Flood Minister over Fylde concerns

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FYLDE MP Mark Menzies has met Flooding Minister Dan Rogerson in Parliament to discuss issues with waterlogged fields locally.

Mr Menzies asked for the meeting after the Environment Agency failed to secure funding for a two-year East Lytham project to clear waterways and alleviate the pressure on the surrounding agricultural land.

The Member of Parliament has hosted several events with the agency and local farmers in recent months and has promised to do all he can to get the matter resolved.

Last week, he visited the bridge at Preston Road, Lytham, to view the recent work to replace the old wooden pen stocks with modern metal barriers and was pleased to see they appeared to be working well in heavy rain.

Mr Menzies said: “I understand the work has had some impact and the water levels affecting properties in the area has dropped. It’s a good start but I would like to see more done to build on these positive results and was disappointed when the Environment Agency was unsuccessful in its bid for funding.

“However, I have now spoken to the Minister about the issues in Fylde and he has gone away to have another look at them to see if there is anything the Government can do.

“I emphasised the importance of the countryside to him and reiterated that these are not just fields which are flooding but people’s homes and businesses, their livelihoods.

“I noted the Environment Agency chairman’s comments with alarm last week when he suggested that the agency can only protect town or country, front rooms or farmland. That is not a position that is acceptable to me as I do not believe the two are mutually exclusive as people live and have their businesses in the country just as much as they do in our towns.

“For a Labour peer, and former cabinet minister, not to recognise that is quite shocking.

“We have all seen the images in the media recently of what can happen when these issues are allowed to build up and I am determined that will not happen in Fylde.”

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The meeting came after Mr Menzies asked a recent Parliamentary question of the Minister on how much work the Government had funded to prevent flooding in the areas surrounding Liggard Brook.

Dan Rogerson replied: “A £400,000 Environment Agency project to replace the penstock valves and other equipment at Dock Bridge pumping station was carried out in 2013. This project will help improve the transfer of water from Main Drain to the Ribble Estuary in the area east of Lytham, providing benefits to properties and agricultural land.

“In winter 2012, Birks Watercourse and Main Drain to the east of Lytham were de-silted by the Environment Agency at a cost of £110,000.

“Further de-silting along a stretch of Liggard Brook in Lytham, costing £25,000, will be taking place prior to April 2014. This will help improve channel capacity and divert water away from properties in Lytham.”

Mr Menzies also raised the possibility of dredging the River Ribble, something which has not been done for many years due to the lack of commercial use of Preston Docks.

The Fylde MP added: “This issue is one which I have been continually working on since being elected to Parliament and I do not intend to stop now.

“I know County Councillor Paul Rigby and Fylde Borough Councillor Tommy Threlfall have also been fighting hard on behalf of rural residents and have had an important impact on the debate.

“The Government knows how important this issue is to many communities in the UK and I am keen for Fylde to be an area which can be held up as an example of good practice.”

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