In his budget statement this week, the Chancellor announced additional monies for flood defence and resilience. He's billed the general insurance industry for this and decided to announce the support now rather than immediately after the floods last December.
Carlisle, however, is interested in specifics not generalised statements. One hundred days on from the flooding caused by Storm Desmond, the city is waiting for any specific announcement from officials relating to the second catastrophic flood event in the last 10 years.
No agency has yet admitted responsibility for the failure of the expensive £38 million joint Environment Agency, Cumbria County Council, Carlisle City Council and United Utilities project.
The questions will continue, and get louder as people express fears that no assessment has been formed and thereby no urgent immediate actions have been taken, which may continue to leave the city unnecessarily exposed to further threats of increased rainfall.
The latest defence system was based on a 1% threat of serious flooding, but the threat now appears closer to 20%. Carlisle Flood Action Group understands no initial assessment has been agreed despite Environment Agency officials being regularly in the city.
Dr Stephen Gibbs, chairman of the group says residents and businesses are anxious for answers.
“The EA appears, as do the Councils, unable to answer who has executive authority for the recovery of the city. On top of the absence of initial reporting, there is the absence of clear and open communication by agencies to residents and businesses.
“The catastrophe and its aftermath is falling between agencies as each appears confused about who does what. The lack of leadership in the county and city is a concern, not just for flood recovery, but for its ability to compete in the global economy.
“Funding and defending Carlisle and Cumbria is at the mercy of new businesses being attracted at a sufficient rate. Governments are flashing huge sums of money around but these are not pegged to any hard analysis. When the hard analysis is revealed can we trust our currently low-key officials to ask searching questions, or will they wave it through as last time?
“On top of this we think the EA is probably a broken organisation, affected by internal organisational issues.”
Carlisle Flood Action Group is holding its next public meeting on Monday 4 April 2016 at 7.30pm at the Crown & Mitre Hotel in Carlisle. The new Executive Committee will be producing hard-hitting assessments on performance of agencies, as well as revealing its own findings on which future protection systems might need public attention.