HAMPSHIRE will be at risk of future floods misery because a Government help scheme is being rushed, an MP has warned.
Caroline Nokes, the Romsey and Southampton North MP, urged ministers to extend a deadline for grant aid which has been set for March 12 – next week.
The Conservative MP said the plea had come from Hampshire County Council, which is still wrestling with the recovery from the floods crisis.
During a Commons debate, Ms Nokes said: “The deadline for the submission to Government is incredibly tight.
“There are concerns that the most developed and worked-up schemes will be submitted, which might not necessarily be the schemes that would best protect the villages in my constituency, or Romsey itself.
“That is a very real concern, because what we have learned over the past three-and-a-half weeks is where the crisis points are.
“We perhaps did not know in detail where they were previously, but we do now.
“We need to have not simply the schemes that are furthest down the pipeline, but the ones that address where there is the biggest point of crisis.”
The Government has set aside £130m for new defence schemes, after 7,000 homes across the country were flooded in the wettest winter since records began.
Since before Christmas, Hampshire has been battered by storms, with torrential rain and gale-force winds bringing chaos to the region.
Families have had their lives turned upside-down by floods. Romsey and Winchester were among the worst-affected areas, as businesses and schools were forced to close.
The Army and Navy stepped in to create temporary dams in both the Itchen and Test rivers, to divert water around Winchester and Romsey respectively.
Ms Nokes said there were also concerns about whether households would be covered by the Government’s Flood Re help scheme.
She added: “Residents want some answers on whether they will be covered if, technically, the house is a replacement and a new building, not one that has just been repaired.”
In reply, floods minister Dan Rogerson ducked the issue of extending the deadline for grants, which has already been put back from March 3.
But he said: “I look forward to working with members to learn the lessons of the past and ensure that we protect more homes and businesses more securely in the future.”
During the debate, Ms Nokes also came out against greater dredging, warning: “That could have the effect of sending water down to Romsey and the River Test even faster.”
Last week, Winchester MP Steve Brine made the same point, telling ministers: “It is the restriction of the River Itchen that took the heat out of the river and flooded some farmland to save Winchester.”