Headlines: June 26th, 2008

Local councils are calling on insurance companies to do more to ensure that people forced out of their homes by last summer’s floods can return to them. The call came from the Local Government Association as it
responded to Sir Michael Pitt’s review of last year’s events.

The review includes a recommendation that local councils should take the led on the management of flood risk. The Government has already promised that it will produce a flooding action plan by the autumn and overall it will allocate 34.5 million pounds to
implement the review’s recommendations.

Cllr Paul Bettison, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Environment Board, said councils strongly supported Sir Michael’s recommendation to put them at the centre of dealing with flooding. “Councils
have the knowledge and expertise to pull together the many and varied local organisations that deal with flooding at the moment. Local authorities need to be allowed to start banging heads together so we can be better prepared to protect people and property,” he said.

He also welcomed calls for more investment in flood defences and said local authorities would be watching this closely. He added, “Clarification is needed on
the duties of other local organisations, in particular utility companies, to ensure that councils’ leadership role is effective. Councillor Bettison also called for the insurance industry to do more with latest figures showing that the majority of people still unable to return to their houses were private home owners while only four per cent of those still in temporary accommodation were from council houses.

“Town halls and insurers alike were put under real pressure by the floods but it is disappointing that a year on so many private homeowners have been unable to return to their homes. Insurers need to be ready in
the future to ensure that they are able get repairs done quickly and effectively and get people back into their homes as quickly as possible,” Councillor Bettison said.