Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has questioned Deputy First Minister John Swinney about the support available for those affected by last week’s flooding.

The local MSP secured an urgent Topical Question in Parliament today to call for Government support to help hard hit communities.

Heavy rain and high tides saw some of the worst flooding in years across the south of Scotland.

A major incident was declared in Hawick and in Dumfries and Galloway, two foot bridges were swept away by the River Annan and the Nith flooded the Whitesands in Dumfries.

Speaking in the debating chamber on Tuesday, Colin Smyth said: “Hardly a community across my constituency was untouched by the flooding last week. In Hawick a major incident was declared, the Nith burst its banks and flooded the Whitesands in Dumfries yet again and in Annan, two foot bridges across the river were washed away.

“Given the scale of the devastation, I had hoped to hear more about direct support from the Government.

“Surely the Government should be not only activating the Bellwin Scheme, but given that the scheme reimburses local councils for some costs incurred with clean-ups, only over and above a certain threshold, we need to go further.

“In 2016, the cabinet secretary himself announced support for communities hit by flooding, including provision for payments of £1500 to affected households and businesses, as well as funding for infrastructure repairs. Will he consider similar support this time for businesses and also funding for infrastructure, such as the replacement of those two bridges lost in Annan?”

In a second follow up question, Colin Smyth called for more funding for flood protection schemes which are currently over subscribed until 2026.

Colin Smyth added: “What was particularly heartbreaking about the flooding last week was the fact that in some of the communities hit, they had incomplete flood protection schemes such as in Hawick or the schemes aren’t yet underway such as in Dumfries.

“Unfortunately, we know that the allocated capital funding for flood protection schemes is already oversubscribed for the next five years, so in the case of Dumfries, there is no funding available even though that is a priority scheme.

“Can I ask the Cabinet Secretary if the Government will urgently review the funding available for flood protection schemes because we simply can’t go on like this with residents and businesses devastated by flooding, time after time after time.”

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