Boris Johnson heckled on visit to flood-stricken Worcestershire town
8 March 2020, 16:08
Boris Johnson was met with heckles of "traitor" as he arrived in Worcestershire to visit ongoing efforts to tackle flooding.
The Prime Minister was taken to see defences which protected the town of Bewdley from the River Severn during recent flooding.
Properties and businesses were inundated with water amid recent heavy rainfall.
Mr Johnson received a mixed reception in the town, with one man shouting "do your f****** job".
A number of teenagers asked him to stop for a selfie on the bridge, and he happily obliged with a smile and a thumbs up.
The Prime Minister said he would "get Bewdley done", as he spoke to residents affected by the floods.
When told some homes had been overwhelmed by as much as 2ft of water, the PM said he was "so sorry to hear it".
He said he had discussed with Environment Agency officials what "permanent defences" can be installed.
He added: "We are doubling the funding for flood defences to £5.2 billion and we're also going to be looking at all the things we can do upstream."
Mr Johnson also met with members of the emergency services who responded when the water levels rose.
He joined them for a cup of tea and biscuits as he told them that the defence structures in the town were "pretty amazing".
The Prime Minister told reporters: "I'm here today to look at the recovery of Bewdley from the flooding, it's badly affected quite a lot of residents here."
He also thanked the Environment Agency and emergency services, before adding that he would also "look at what we can do to make sure this doesn't happen again".
"We're doubling the budgets we've set aside for investment in flood protection across the country from £2.6 billion to £5.2 billion."
The PM said he would look at things including making defences more permanent and secure and also making changes upstream.
Mr Johnson was also asked why he did not visit flood-hit communities when the waters were at their peak.
He said:"It's too easy for a PM to come to a place in a middle of an emergency, it's not so easy frankly for the emergency services.
"What they have to do is then break off and gold command has to find somewhere to brief you, everybody has to gather.
"They're diverting from their work for hours and hours.
"What I've been doing since the flooding began is coordinating the national response but also looking at what we can do in the next months and years to ensure this country really is ready to cope with the impacts of flooding."
Mr Johnson was also asked how flood-hit communities can feel reassured because the barriers did breach.
He said: "The problem with these barriers is that they were overtopped.
"They are great bits of kit but when you have a big flood like that, they're not going to be effective.
"The things we have to look at are the rules which currently say that you can't put in permanent defences when you've only got a small number of households potentially affected.
"The case we need to make is it's not just the number of households, it's also the economic damage, it's the damage to confidence, all the rest of it in the town.
"That is how working with the Environment Agency, we now want to make progress."