Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Dammed - or damned?

Mrs Rigby doesn't watch or listen to any part of PMQ any more, not even the recordings - it's too distasteful to see/hear questions sidestepped and pre-prepared statements slotted in to fit an agenda rather than to answer the question. Instead she takes a stroll round a few blogs and finds out what's been said.

PMQ should be the time any Member of Parliament can ask a question of the Prime Minister, which is what happens in theory, in practice a number of questions are put forward, answers are prepared and those that make government look best are the ones that are given time.

Today Iain Dale relates what happened during PMQ when Michael Fabricant asked Mr Brown for help with the costs of essential repairs to a leaking earth dam that holds back the Chasewater Reservoir, because it's too much for the local budget alone.

Rigby Town is nowhere near Chasewater so we looked it up and thought we would share our findings. According to good old Wikipedia the earth dam was started in 1796, opened in 1797, burst in 1799 was repaired in 1800. It was built to store water for the canal system and is used today for watersports and wildlife.

The reservoir is here. It is not in an isolated valley far from towns. The river leaving the reservoir (which would be the route of any overflow or flood) passes beneath the M6 Toll. Because of this you'd expect a reasonable response from government - if the dam were to burst it wouldn't just affect local people, it could cut a very major road.

This was the question
The 200 year old earthworks dam in my constituency which contains the Chasewater reservoir has started to leak. A recent engineers report stated that if it collapses, scores of lives will be lost and there will be a lasting effect in the midlands. The small district of Lichfield does not have the funds to make the urgent repairs. Will the Prime Minister please use his best endeavours to ensure that the financial burden is spread over the region as a whole?"
Bear in mind UK is a bit short of cash, but there's obviously enough in the coffers to spend on a few laptops, so you'd think there'd be some spare to fix a leaking dam.

This, however, was the Prime Minister's response
Of course I will be happy to consider his point although I see that he is making the case for public expenditure
It took a little while for these words to sink in and, of course it's "political" - Litchfield is Tory and the Tories are saying there needs to be a reduction in public expenditure, so Michael Fabricant must be a hypocrite .. or something. It doesn't matter about the dam, what matters most is politicking and point scoring.

So maybe Chasefield should advertise for a Hans Brinker? But this isn't really a joking matter.

This is what the local paper says Leaking Chasewater dam could have 'catastrophic consequences', MP Fabricant claims

Here's what's been said on Iain Dale's Diary, this is what they say on LabourHome

We Rigbys just hope it doesn't rain too much, that it stays above feezing so freeze-thaw doesn't increase the area that's leaking. Let's hope they find the money to get the repairs done before there's a disaster.

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