Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 22°C

min temp: 13°C

ESTD 1874 Search

East Anglia: Environment Agency worker claims job cuts will hit body’s ability to respond to incidents like Suffolk flooding

06:30 07 January 2014

Taken near the level crossing on the Thurston to Haughley road.

Taken near the level crossing on the Thurston to Haughley road.

(c) copyright citizenside.com

An Environment Agency worker has claimed plans to cut 1,500 jobs could hit the body’s ability to respond to incidents like the recent Norfolk and Suffolk floods.

shares

The employee, who wanted to be known as Pete, said the agency was “flailing” as staff were being dispatched around the country to deal with the prolonged storms, adding that things would only get worse if the planned job cuts took place.

The employee, who works in operations delivery and has covered the East of England, also said the agency’s ability to maintain existing defences would be affected by a dramatic cut in the revenue budget.

It comes as MPs have raised concerns over the Environment department’s ability to respond to emergencies in the face of swingeing budget cuts, in a report out today.

Half a billion pounds has been cut from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) budget since 2010 and the department is facing further cuts of more than £300 million over the next two years, the MPs warned.

But a spokesman for Defra said the department was currently spending more than £2.3 billion on tackling the risk of flooding and coastal erosion.

And Paul Leinster, Environment Agency chief executive said the Environment Agency had to save money and reduce staff numbers, like the rest of the public sector.

“We are looking to protect frontline services and our ability to respond to flooding when it occurs. The Environment Agency will still be a £1bn business with around 10,000 staff, covering a range of work to protect people and the environment.”

But the Environment Agency operations worker said that the revenue budget, which was being cut, was used for maintaining existing defences. “It is like having a brand new car and never servicing it. That is the big concern for us out there on the ground.”

He also warned that the cuts would have an impact on the body’s ability to maintain rivers, by carrying out tasks such as clearing reeds and de-silting. He also said that responsibility for keeping rivers clear would fall more on private owners who were not necessarily “competent” at dealing with incidents, such as fallen trees.

He said: “We are the ones who are the liaison with the public, who are directly affected by the flood warnings.”

“What has been happening is that staff are being asked to go to area offices and cross subsidise those people that are tired, but that then means that other areas of the country become more vulnerable to heavy rainfull. We just seem to be trying to shift the resource around and that can’t fulfil the obligations of what is required, and that is without the 15pc staff cuts being proposed.

“Really at the minute we are coping, dare I say, but you can see how things are only going to get worse with the job cuts.”

“Everybody has a contracted role in the agency, but they might be a telephone call handler in times of emergency.”

He added that the agency seemed to be responding more frequently to incidents.

What do you think about the Environment Agency cuts? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

shares

2 comments

  • Equivalent quangos in the rest of the world are much smaller, the Environment Agency for England alone has more staff than the Canadian, Danish, French, German, Swedish and Austrian equivalents, combined! Only the US Environmental Protection Agency has more staff, (15,913 versus 11,200) hardly surprising given the US is some eighty times larger than the UK with six times the population. Based on international comparisons it has 9,000 too many and a billion plus budget that should be slashed in half.

    Report this comment

    davidsuffolk

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • Based on the current level of flooding and disruption, I would have to question the effectiveness of the current structure. It is merely another public sector, taxpayer funded, inefficient mess. And I totally agree with you David, for such a small island the level of financial waste is obscene.

    Report this comment

    Johnie Redwood

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Lord Deben John Gummer, Christine Block, from Deben Estuary Partnership, Karen Thomas, from Water Management Alliance, Graham Henderson, from DEP, Simon Amstutz, from AONB, Therese Coffey MP, David Kemp from the Environment Agency, and Suffolk Coastal District Councillor Andy Smith gathered to launch the Deben Estuary Plan.

Three years of work have created a new community-led blueprint to protect and manage one of Suffolk’s treasures, the River Deben estuary

Detectives investigating a burglary at a home in Colchester have issued an efit of a man they would like to identify in connection with the incident.

Age UK is looking for volunteers to take part in a video

Bosses at Age UK Suffolk are looking for 10 older people to take part in a new promotional video that is being made to show off the work of the charity.

An Abellio Greater Anglia train at Colchester

Rail delays at Colchester have been caused by a broken down train.

Rendlesham Care Centre rated ‘good’ by CQC (L-R) Danielle Brown, Administrator; Liz Slight, Home Manager; Maxine Crisp, Carer; Fabian Lossa, Carer; Rachael Last, Receptionist

Rendlesham Care Centre was found to provide a safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led service according to the CQC report.

A diversion has been put in place

Severe traffic delays in Chelmsford have been caused by a traffic collision.

Woodbridge Carnival fireworks 2015.

People in an east Suffolk town are being asked to vote with their cash if they want a fireworks display next year.

Station Hill in Bury St Edmunds, which is being redeveloped.

Plans for more than 100 flats near the train station in Bury St Edmunds - an area of the town that is earmarked for regeneration - have been recommended to be refused.

Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey (centre) with members of her team and Fern Howard (left) from the Alzheimer’s Society

It follows a visit by the Alzheimer’s Society, who run the Dementia Friends scheme, to help Dr Coffey and her staff understand the effect of dementia on everyday lives.

Lifeboat

Coastguard services were called to rescue a teenager in Corton, near Lowestoft yesterday evening.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages