Councils in Kent dealing with some of the worst flooding the country has seen in years may get emergency money for the costs of safeguarding residents and properties, the government has said.
As the clear-up continues and with forecasts of more rain, environment secretary Owen Paterson told MPs today the government had triggered what is known as the Bellwin Scheme.
This involves providing councils with emergency money where they have to deal with safeguarding people during an unexpected crisis - typically those caused by bad weather.
High river levels in Maidstone
Mr Paterson said the local government secretary Eric Pickles had “opened discussions” with councils in Kent and Sussex about whether they should get extra money.
Meanwhile, the way councils and emergency services responded to the flooding afflicting parts of Kent is to be put under the spotlight by councillors at an unscheduled special meeting next week.
The Kent Flood Risk Management committee, which is made up of county councillors and representatives from every district council in Kent, is to assess how the floods were dealt with and consider what lessons should be learned.
Cllr Mike Harrison (Con), the committee chairman and KCC councillor, said the meeting was not about “pointing fingers” but establishing what, if anything, could have been done better.
Kent's coast is battered in the high winds
He has asked for both the Environment Agency and council bosses to attend to explain how they responded.
“We do not want to make this a finger-pointing exercise. Each district has got its own flood defence plan and we want to know what has worked and what has not worked. It will be open to anyone to say what happened.”
Flooding after heavy rainfall in Maidstone
There have been some complaints from residents in affected areas that it was difficult to get responses from both councils and the Environment Agency over Christmas.
Mr Harrison added that it was too early to say whether budget cuts played any part in the ability of the emergency services, councils and the Environment Agency.
It is understood that KCC will deliver its own report on the flooding at the end of the month.