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Boris Johnson gets mixed reception in flood-hit Bewdley

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Bewdley in Worcestershire to see recovery efforts following recent flooding in the Severn valley and across the UKImage copyright PA Media
Image caption The prime minster met with Environment Agency workers to discuss efforts to tackle flooding

The prime minister has received a mixed reaction during a visit to a flood-hit town.

Boris Johnson visited Bewdley in Worcestershire, where Storm Dennis saw flood defences overtopped by the River Severn last month.

One onlooker shouted “traitor” at the prime minister, who also posed for selfies with teenagers on a bridge.

Earlier, the Treasury announced plans to double funding for flood defences in England over the next five years.

The money, due to be announced on Wednesday, will help to build 2,000 new flood and coastal defence schemes and protect 336,000 properties in the country.

Mr Johnson visited the banks of the Severn where he was shown flood defences by the Environment Agency.

He previously had to deny “hiding” during the flooding crisis, which saw hundreds of homes evacuated.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn branded Mr Johnson a “part time prime minister” who “goes Awol” during emergencies in February.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The River Severn peaked at 4.6m in Bewdley

This year was the wettest February in the UK since records began in 1862, with more than three times the average rainfall – as three successive storms left rivers bursting their banks and communities flooded.

In some of the worst-hit areas in the Midlands, Wales and south Yorkshire, homes and businesses flooded three times in a matter of weeks.

Mr Johnson received a mixed reaction in Bewdley as he spoke to residents affected by the floods and said he would “get Bewdley done”.

A number of people tried to shake his hand and take photos as he made his way along the river.

But he was also told to “do your job” as he walked along the river bank and was given a demonstration of how flood barriers work.

“What we’re doing is we are doubling the funding for flood defences to £5.2 bn and we’re also going to be looking at all the things we can do upstream,” Mr Johnson said.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Dozens of homes were evacuated after the Severn overtopped defences in Bewdley

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Media captionFlood water pours over the top of Bewdley’s barriers

Mr Johnson said he was “so sorry to hear” some homes had been overwhelmed by as much as 2ft of water.

He also met with members of the emergency services who responded when the water levels rose.

The prime minister said he had discussed “what permanent defences we can put in and what’s the business case” with the Environment Agency (EA).

Environment Secretary George Eustice visited Ironbridge and Shrewsbury, which were particularly badly hit, on 27 February and defended the prime minister for not visiting himself.

Local Conservative MPs also stopped short of calling on the prime minister to visit the flooded areas, with Bewdley MP Mark Garnier saying a visit would have been nothing more than a “photo opportunity”.

Dave Throup, from the EA, said further heavy rain forecast for Monday and Tuesday meant there were further “significant” risks of flooding along the Severn next week.

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-51791346

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