March 7 2014 Latest news:
Monday, January 6, 2014
Suffolk MP Peter Aldous has called on cabinet minister Owen Patterson to re-think staff cuts at the Environment Agency following the winter storms.
Mr Aldous, whose Waveney constituency was badly hit by last month’s tidal surge, said the Secretary of State for the Environment should not go ahead with the proposed cuts to the Agency until a review of the winter storms had been completed.
He said: “I think the Environment Agency and the Government have done very well in responding to the problems and making preparations – especially when you consider that last month’s event was on the same scale as 1953. But I do feel that in the wake of the storms that have been, and continue to be, battering the country, I think it would be good to have a pause and make sure that the agency will still be able to cope after these reductions.”
The agency is expecting to lose about 1,500 jobs under a restructuring proposal – and officials have warned this could affect its ability to deal with flooding problems in the future. The number of staff employed by the agency is due to fall from 11,200 to 9,700 by October this year.
Mr Aldous said: “I was talking to staff from (engineers) Halcrow who said that the 1953 surge was thought to be a one in 1,000-year event. We had similar flooding in 2007, and now this winter. Now is the time for the agency to ensure we are prepared for more storms like this, not to cut more jobs.”