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United front is needed to win the flood relief battle
9:00am Thursday 13th February 2014 in News
PARTY politics must take a back seat when disasters on the scale of the current floods are being discussed.
Who cut what from whom and when can be dealt with later.
So can issues like the competence or otherwise of the hapless Lord Smith, head of the Environment Agency and the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.
Now is the time for action, not point scoring. That is why we welcome the call from Oxfordshire County Council’s deputy leader, Rodney Rose, for politicians from all parties and all the relevant agencies to work together for the good of the county.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith has already outlined the need for politicians to co-operate on solving our maddening and increasingly frequent flooding.
The Oxfordshire Flood Summit on March 21 will be a good opportunity for our civic leaders to reinforce their case to the Government for serious investment in lasting flood relief measures.
The answer, most people seem to agree, is the £123m relief scheme known as the Western Conveyance, which has been floated, no pun intended, many times in the past.
Prime Minister David Cameron pledged yesterday that money would be ‘no object’ but Chancellor George Osborne will have something to say about that and when he does, the Witney MP may have to face some harsher realities.
Our chances of securing Goverment cash have never been greater, but there are many other worthy causes and the likelihood is that if and when we do get money towards the flood relief effort, not all of the £123m will come from central Goverment.
That may beg tough questions of the city and county councils, the University and the private sector.
We think all the cash should come from Government, of course. So for now, we need the city and county councils, Oxford’s two MPs and all other interested parties to work as one team in getting the best deal they can for Oxford.
The political skirmishing can continue on other issues.
But, as Labour’s Mr Smith emphasised yesterday and Tory Mr Rose says on this page today, this is one battle that will only be won by presenting a united front.
That is no more than the people of Abingdon Road and elsewhere in our sodden city deserve.