Local Plaid Cymru AM Elin Jones has called on Governments in Wales and Westminster to be more pro-active in helping Ceredigion to repair the damage from the storms which hit the county at the beginning of the year.
The Ceredigion AM sharply criticised the Secretary of State for Wales for dismissing the idea of applying to the European Union’s ‘Solidarity Fund’, and this week called used First Minister’s questions in the Assembly to press the case for financial assistance to repair storm damage on Aberystwyth prom and elsewhere on the Ceredigion coast.
Elin Jones also raised the matter again with the Natural Resources Minister, who had visited Ceredigion in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
Ceredigion’s Plaid Cymru AM Elin Jones said,
“I was dismayed that the Secretary of State for Wales dismissed the idea of applying to the European Solidarity Fund for financial help. This fund was set up to share the burden of dealing with storms and floods; Ireland is already looking to access this money in the wake of the damage done to its coastline, we should be doing the same.
“It’s up to the Westminster Government, as the EU member state, to apply. The UK has applied to the fund once before, after floods in 2007. On that occasion 162 million Euro were obtained to help over 48,000 households, of which a grand total of 32 were in Wales!
“It seems that this Coalition Government is fearful that an application to the Solidarity Fund will affect its EU rebate. Westminster politicians shouldn’t put Eurosceptic dogma before the needs of people in Ceredigion, and should look into applying for this fund as soon as possible. I know that MEPs such as Jill Evans are already pushing our case in Brussels.
“I have also asked the Welsh Government to be pro-active in dealing with this issue. The damage is too great for Ceredigion Council to deal with on its own in this time of financial cutbacks. The First Minister reported on the progress of discussions between the Government and local authorities to assess the scale of the damage.
“The Natural Resources Minister, who came with me to see the damage in Ceredigion in the aftermath of the storms, responded to an urgent question on the floor of the Assembly on Tuesday, and touched on the situation in Borth, Aberystwyth, Aberaeron, Cardigan and elsewhere. I urged him to give assistance to those areas affected, and work closely with the local authorities and Natural Resources Wales to repair the damage and ensure adequate protection for the future.”
In a statement Secretary of State for Wales David Jones said:
“I am hugely sympathetic of the difficulties being faced by residents in West and North Wales.
“The primary responsibility for dealing with incidents like the recent flooding lies with the local authority: In Wales this means it ultimately comes under the Welsh Government’s remit. I do want to be clear, however, that we, in the UK Government are ready to consider any request for assistance made by the Welsh Government.
“The damage is still being assessed and officials in my department are in regular contact with officials in the Welsh Government. I must make it absolutely clear, however, there have been no official requests for additional assistance from Welsh Government ministers, nor have we received any request to access the EU Solidarity Fund.”