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Walker praises local businesses and residents’ response to floods

Wednesday, 12 February, 2014

Robin Walker, Worcester’s MP has praised the response of the emergency services, local councils and the Environment Agency to the enormous challenges presented by the high River and persistent rain over recent days. 

He rushed back to Worcester on Sunday night when the Environment Agency warned that River levels were threatening to exceed the 2007 level of 5.6 metres. In the event they reached 5.42 metres and although Worcester’s main bridge was closed causing serious traffic disruption, there was not the level of flooding experienced by too many houses in 2007. Houses in Diglis Avenue, Waterworks Road and Pitchcroft Lane have been cut off by floodwater but in Hylton Road the flood defences have protected many houses that have flooded before.

Robin attended the Silver Command meeting at County Hall on Monday and visited flood hit streets such as Diglis Avenue where he was unable to reach houses due to the level of water outside them. He was told by residents that the houses that had had their floors raised since 2007 were still dry inside. At the meeting he supported the County Council’s desire to re-open the bridge as soon as possible in order to overcome traffic problems and show that the City was open for business. He gave a number of interviews to regional and national media on Monday to point out that the city’s High Street and most of its businesses were unaffected by flooding and to counter reports that the city was closed. He has since supported the BID in its twitter campaign to show that Worcester is open for business.

As the River fell and Robin returned to Westminster on Monday afternoon, he has stayed in touch with the Councils and the Environment agency. Today he expressed his concern and regret that the bridge might need to be closed again, saying 

“I am very concerned to hear that rising river levels mean that Worcester’s main bridge may again be having to close later this evening, but I am glad to see that the County Council is trying to keep it open for as long as possible. This has been a very worrying time for my constituents and for businesses in Worcester who have suffered major disruptions from road closures, extra traffic and reduced footfall in the city centre.” 

“Of course such problems are only minor compared to the devastation that is suffered by people whose homes or businesses are flooded and I am grateful for the enormous hard work of the emergency services, local councils and the Environment Agency in protecting people from flooding to date. So far Worcester’s flood defences have performed well and hundreds of homes have been protected but with the river rising again, it is a worrying time.”

“I am very proud of all the shops, restaurants and small businesses that have stayed open through all of this and they deserve the full support of local people. It is important to stress that even when the riverside is flooded, Worcester’s High Street is well above the water level and even where there are some roads closed, visitors are very welcome in most of the city centre. Worcester remains open for business and most parts of the city will continue to do so whatever happens with the flooding.” 

“I particularly welcome the way in which all services have worked together in this very challenging situation. I know that some of the people doing so have been working in all weathers and around the clock for many days now. I admire the determination of Worcester’s businesspeople to keep calm and carry on and I am glad to see that the Mayor of the Worcester has been out and about visiting local traders with support from the BID.”

“The latest guidance suggests that the next peak will be early Thursday morning and could be as high as the 2007 floods. I hope that this turns out not to be the case and I will be watching closely to see what needs to be done. In the meantime I salute the courage and the patience of local residents who are coping with hugely challenging circumstances. I spent Monday visiting some of the streets that had been worst affected by flooding and if the river rises again in the next couple of days I will be back to see what I can do to help.”