Kingswood’s Conservative MP Chris Skidmore and Labour’s Jo McCarron, who hopes to oust him at next year’s General Election, went head to head to debate the deepening Somerset flooding crisis on the Sunday Politics West show.
Ms McCarron said: “I think people feel the reaction’s been very, very slow from the Government. It is good that there is now action being taken and it is good that the Government are now looking at reinstating the funding which they actually cut. In a sense, that’s an admission of failure.”
Mr Skidmore denied the suggestion that the Government had not got a grip on the situation on the Somerset Levels. He praised the work of MPs of all parties in making sure Somerset’s voice was heard.
He said: “We’ve put in £30m since December, another £100m for the rest of this year. We’ve put in more money – £3.1bn in the course of this Parliament – than in the last Parliament under Labour, which was £2.7bn.
“I think this is a longer term problem. Rivers have not been dredged since 1995 and I think we’ve got to hold our hands up, whether it’s Conservative, whether it’s Labour, whether it’s Liberal Democrats, we’ve got to double our efforts and focus on the countryside.”
He said the role of the Environment Agency was an issue, making sure they prioritised what was needed in the local area. “For too long it’s been an organisation concerned with conservation rather than flooding.”
He said that on the issue of dredging, it was “about time they pulled their finger out”.