Sir Graham Watson, MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, was in Saltford today.
Escorted by Duncan Hounsell, Liberal Democrat organiser for Saltford, Sir Graham’s first call was to the historic Saltford Brass Mill at The Shallows to meet the volunteers and have a guided tour led by Brian Cooper and Tony Coverdale.
Sir Graham was delighted to announce to the team that Bath & North East Somerset Council has committed to repairing the damaged roof and rewiring the electrics so that the building can be used safely with a target date of 1st May. It has been closed for over a year because of health and safety concerns.
He also visited Wessex Water’s scientific laboratories at Mead Lane, where the work of the labs in monitoring water quality was explained by Andy Paymer, director of customer services, and Helen Shapland, head of analytical services.
The Saltford tour concluded at the Riverside Inn, Saltford, with an opportunity for local people to meet him.
Sir Graham took an interest in how Saltford was affected by flooding the recent persistent rain when the River Avon burst its banks and water levels come close to record levels. The ground floor of the Riverside Inn itself was flooded and is out of action, including the B&B rooms on that level.
Sir Graham revealed that he was urging the Government to apply for funding from the European Union Solidarity Fund to help businesses and communities in the UK with the storm clean-up.
The Fund paid out £30million to help people affected by the severe flooding that devastated parts of Gloucestershire in 2007.
Sir Graham also said it was vital that more was done to prevent flooding, including dredging, and said it was time the Government devolved powers from the Environment Agency to local drainage boards – made up of local councils, landowners and water companies with knowledge of their area.
He also said the Government should look into sources of low interest, EU funding for long-term infrastructure to help combat the problems.