FLOODED homeowners in Longford welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron as more rain is set to continue this week.
He stopped off at the Queens Head to meet residents before making his way to the Gloucestershire TriService Emergency Centre, at Waterwells.
Praising the ‘bravery and courage’ of residents, Mr Cameron told the Citizen:“My heart goes out to those who have been affected. It has caused a lot of tragedy and heartbreak. We have been investing a lot of money into the flood defences than ever before. We have spent £2.4billion in the current four-year period on flood defences. We have seen a massive improvement in the defences. Homes in Tewkesbury this time round have been better.”
Martin Hand, landlord of the Queens Head, said: “It was good that he came to see people and have look around the area, to see what is going on. The floods in 2007 were very bad, whatever the Government are doing, they are doing a good job.”
Mr Cameron also announced further support for businesses in areas affected by flooding.
The new Business Support Scheme worth up to £10million will provide hardship funding for small and medium businesses in areas affected by the floods. Extra time will also be given for businesses to file accounts without any penalties.
A Government business support helpline will be set up to provide comprehensive advice and support to businesses affected by floods.
Mr Cameron said: “We are learning from these important lessons and we have signed up to more schemes to see if more can be done.”
When challenged about the potential plans for 570 new homes to be built in Longford he said strict procedures would be followed.
Mr Cameron said: “Expert advice is always followed for plans to be built on flood plains, which the local council can then make a decision say yes or no. Advice is always given by experts, this is the way the system works.”
When asked if he would plan a holiday in the South West this year, he replied that he would take a trip down in the summer with his family and Tewkesbury Abbey was a favourite.
Conservative MP for Tewkesbury Laurence Robertson, who met Mr Cameron in Longford, said: “Holding the first meeting in Longford was useful, because of the proposals to build houses in an area which floods badly. The point was made to the Prime Minister that this will make flooding worse in the area.”
At Quedgeley, Mr Cameron then met members of the armed forces and emergency services plus politicians.
Superintendent Phil Haynes, silver command for Gloucestershire Police, said: “It is good David Cameron saw for himself rather than read reports and he can see the affect it has been on Tewkesbury. He noticed how all the different agencies are working together. He spoke to us during a meeting about the key issues and a the new scheme. The key thing for him was that we are all working together.”