Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 8°C

Search

East Anglia: Environment Agency worker claims job cuts will hit body’s ability to respond to incidents like Suffolk flooding

PUBLISHED: 06:30 07 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:44 07 January 2014

Taken near the level crossing on the Thurston to Haughley road.

Taken near the level crossing on the Thurston to Haughley road.

(c) copyright citizenside.com

An Environment Agency worker has claimed plans to cut 1,500 jobs could hit the body’s ability to respond to incidents like the recent Norfolk and Suffolk floods.

The employee, who wanted to be known as Pete, said the agency was “flailing” as staff were being dispatched around the country to deal with the prolonged storms, adding that things would only get worse if the planned job cuts took place.

The employee, who works in operations delivery and has covered the East of England, also said the agency’s ability to maintain existing defences would be affected by a dramatic cut in the revenue budget.

It comes as MPs have raised concerns over the Environment department’s ability to respond to emergencies in the face of swingeing budget cuts, in a report out today.

Half a billion pounds has been cut from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) budget since 2010 and the department is facing further cuts of more than £300 million over the next two years, the MPs warned.

But a spokesman for Defra said the department was currently spending more than £2.3 billion on tackling the risk of flooding and coastal erosion.

And Paul Leinster, Environment Agency chief executive said the Environment Agency had to save money and reduce staff numbers, like the rest of the public sector.

“We are looking to protect frontline services and our ability to respond to flooding when it occurs. The Environment Agency will still be a £1bn business with around 10,000 staff, covering a range of work to protect people and the environment.”

But the Environment Agency operations worker said that the revenue budget, which was being cut, was used for maintaining existing defences. “It is like having a brand new car and never servicing it. That is the big concern for us out there on the ground.”

He also warned that the cuts would have an impact on the body’s ability to maintain rivers, by carrying out tasks such as clearing reeds and de-silting. He also said that responsibility for keeping rivers clear would fall more on private owners who were not necessarily “competent” at dealing with incidents, such as fallen trees.

He said: “We are the ones who are the liaison with the public, who are directly affected by the flood warnings.”

“What has been happening is that staff are being asked to go to area offices and cross subsidise those people that are tired, but that then means that other areas of the country become more vulnerable to heavy rainfull. We just seem to be trying to shift the resource around and that can’t fulfil the obligations of what is required, and that is without the 15pc staff cuts being proposed.

“Really at the minute we are coping, dare I say, but you can see how things are only going to get worse with the job cuts.”

“Everybody has a contracted role in the agency, but they might be a telephone call handler in times of emergency.”

He added that the agency seemed to be responding more frequently to incidents.

What do you think about the Environment Agency cuts? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

2 comments

  • Equivalent quangos in the rest of the world are much smaller, the Environment Agency for England alone has more staff than the Canadian, Danish, French, German, Swedish and Austrian equivalents, combined! Only the US Environmental Protection Agency has more staff, (15,913 versus 11,200) hardly surprising given the US is some eighty times larger than the UK with six times the population. Based on international comparisons it has 9,000 too many and a billion plus budget that should be slashed in half.

    Report this comment

    davidsuffolk

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • Based on the current level of flooding and disruption, I would have to question the effectiveness of the current structure. It is merely another public sector, taxpayer funded, inefficient mess. And I totally agree with you David, for such a small island the level of financial waste is obscene.

    Report this comment

    Johnie Redwood

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

A 333 mile journey home for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation finished on Saturday when the Hike4Hopey charity walkers arrived at St James’ Park, Newcastle.

Firefighters tackled a “needless” blaze at the former Manganese Bronze plant in Ipswich on Sunday night.

The fire in the top floor of the two-storey derelict building, behind houses on Hadleigh Road, was caused by trespassers.
 The fire was reported at around 5.30pm on April 30 and six crews, including an aerial appliance, were expected to battle the blaze for several hours last night.
 Station Commander Jon Southgate, of Princes Street station, said the fire was caused by someone deliberately or accidentally setting the fire.
 “There are numerous discarded needles around the site and from experience we know there will be needles inside as well,” he said. “We will not be entering the building because I want to ensure the safety of our firefighters. 
 “It is a shame that we are now going to have four crews fighting a completely needless and preventable fire.”

Seven suspected Ukrainian illegal immigrants have been arrested after their yacht ran aground on the Suffolk coast today.

It may have been a forgettable season finish for Blues fans at Portman Road on Saturday – but one moment of magic should cheer even the most desolate of supporters.

Former Bread star Giles Watling is hoping to make it third time lucky when he tries again to be elected as Conservative MP for Clacton next month.

Ipswich Town’s home campaign finished with a typically forgettable 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. Blues reporter STUART WATSON gives his verdict.

A critical care nurse is to take on her first ever open-water swimming challenge in memory of her best friend who she lost to meningitis.

One sixth form in Ipswich experienced the glitz and glamour of Hollywood with its own red carpet event last week for its film students.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell helped give Ipswich Labour Party a big boost at the start of the General Election as the star guest at the town’s May Day Festival in Alexandra Park.

Could you open your home to one of these cats and dogs all looking for new homes?

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24