A GOVERNMENT minister was in Hampshire earlier this week to discuss options to battle future floods.

Greg Barker met with local authority bosses to talk about how the county coped with the worst flooding in generations last January.

It comes as the Met Offices warned of possible flooding later this afternoon.

As part of his visit, Mr Barker, the Minister in the Department for Energy and Climate Change, toured areas of Winchester that were hit by floods.

This included Water Lane, where sandbags are still piled up.

He was then in talks with representatives from Hampshire County Council,Winchester City Council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue and the Environment Agency.

Mr Barker was shown images of the 70 foot barrier erected near the Winchester School of Art to hold back the water after the river burst its banks in early February.

Greg Barker, Minister in the Department for Energy and Climate Change, said: “It’s clear there was a great response by the community that avoided what could have been a disaster.

"The reason so many [houses] were safe was because of the actions of so many.

"I’m here to look at what’s needed to go back to the Prime Minister but I’m also going to look at what investment is required.

"This is an important priority for the Prime Minister.

“We are absolutely on it and we’re working hand in glove with Steve Brine, who has been fantastic right the way through the flooding crisis, and ensure that Winchester gets the support it needs.”

More than 70,000 sandbags were deployed on the roads and river banks across Hampshire during one of the wettest winters on record.

Homes were cut off at Water Lane and Park Lane while residents across the district, including Twyford, Kings Worthy and Hursley, were forced to endlessly pump water from their homes.

A temporary road was built at Andover Road North over the flood water which had closed the road and many reported not being able to use their bathrooms and kitchens because of flooded sewers.

Steve Brine, MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford, said: “In February it was all about dealing with the crisis and we have plans but I wanted to bring the Minister here so he could take the lessons back to the government.

"My message to the Minister is Winchester learned the lessons in 2000 that, this time, without question, saved dozens of houses from flooding. But there are still infrastructure issues that I want to be raised.”

Cllr Perry said: “I very much welcome this opportunity to further discuss our flooding response and recovery work with the Prime Minister’s special flood envoy.

"It will be a good opportunity to share what we’ve learnt from this winter, and what needs to be done next.

"While we continue to clear up and repair the damage done, we’ll be pressing the case for funding and resources for Hampshire to ensure we and our partners like the Environment Agency and district councils can keep people, property and highways as safe as we can.

“We’ve already submitted 33 bids for funding for individual flood mitigation schemes. Government has given us £11.5m for road repairs as a helpful first step and we’ll bidding further, given the estimated £25m needed.

"We’ll be making clear our commitment to investing in Hampshire by continuing to fund an enhanced maintenance programme to improve the resilience of our 5,000 miles of road, and putting local capital funding forward to support grant bids for flood defence work.”

Mike O’Neill, operations manager for the Environment Agency, said: “This meeting today has been used to brief the minister on the action that was taken by the county council, city council, emergency services and the Environment Agency, to reduce the flooding risk to Winchester.

"There were few flooded properties in Winchester because of the plans put in place in advance.”