Well, I’m about Away in a Manger’d out! This time of the year sees MPs who can't sing for toffee, miming their way through various carol concerts and Christmas services. I actually really enjoy the services and it is great to see churches full and communities coming together. My favourite this year has to have been the South Ferriby tree lighting and carols. People who had been flooded just days before, took time out to come together, as this village has since the floods. It has been my privilege to be able to work with Parish Councillors, residents and volunteers in South Ferriby, and other flood hit communities, over the past few weeks. I’d also like to thank residents for their kind words which were welcome but not necessary.
The recovery phase is now well under way and questions are now turning to how the various agencies responded to the flooding. Similarly, residents in communities such as Keadby, Winteringham, Burringham and South Ferriby are asking if the river defences are adequate for the future. There is no doubt that the combination of a high tide, low pressure and storm surge created quite exceptional levels, hopefully once in a lifetime, but we need to be sure that our defences continue to be improved in line with rising sea levels.
To this end, since the floods I have twice met the Environment Agency to look to the future. Last Friday, Cllrs Rob Waltham, Ralph Ogg and Ron Alcock joined me for a summit with Environment Agency officials at my office in Brigg. The EA’s long term plans for the Humber and Trent is to maintain and improve the banks. This is part of their plan for the next 25 years, and I have agreed to Chair a group with Council Leader, Liz Redfern, to investigate whether some of this investment can be brought forward. I will do all I can to ensure residents are better protected.
We also had good news this week in the form of the announcement that the Government had decided to approve the Able UK development, which could bring thousands of jobs. North Lincolnshire ends 2013 with more people in work and unemployment lower than at the start. Hopefully we are on our way back!
I’d like to end by wishing everybody a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year. I’ll be spending mine with family, but I’ll also be doing a lot of First Responder volunteer duty with the Ambulance Service, who work so hard for us all this time of year.