John Mann MP column: Friday 21st February

The Government stated that all the money necessary for British flood defences had been provided and that the defences were up to scratch. I disagree.

Not just is this a problem in Somerset and along the Thames - though it is noticeable how when 300 homes flood near London there is a media panic, while when in 2007 there were 55,000 homes flooded in the North and this was regarded as normal.

There has been sterling work done, not least by John Bowler and Ian Davies of our local council, who have overseen significant improvements. However nobody should pretend that the big spending needed to guarantee town centres, nor the major changes in farming methods and drainage needed in rural Bassetlaw have all taken place. The truth is that money has been significantly cut and the necessary investment has not taken place.

It is also true that other areas are faring much worse for investment than Bassetlaw. We have got our act together and demanded to be a priority, while others have waited patiently. Frankly this is part of the problem. We have climate change deniers claiming that global warming is not a problem; a lack of investment in renewables that work; a planning system that hinders fast progress; house building on flood plains and a government in total denial.

I am demanding that the government gets its act together and properly funds the Environment Agency. Without the appropriate money then how can they ever do their job and it is quite outrageous that they are being blamed, when their call for no cuts went unheeded last year.

We need to bite the bullet locally, which is why I strongly support local neighbourhood development plans, where the community can control what housing is built where. Stymied by government bureaucracy, local progress on this has been painstakingly slow, but the benefits in the long run are immense. More need to be started as a priority.

I also support the establishment of a green energy fund in Bassetlaw, using the proceeds from oil and gas fracking to retrofit public buildings. Gas and nuclear power are stop-gap energy solutions whilst we properly harness the power of renewable energy and the consequential huge reductions in household energy bills. We have no choice in this and Bassetlaw should lead the way, and we should agree to do so as an immediate priority.

Congratulations to Retford’s Mayor, Councillor Alan Chambers, who conquered the Yorkshire Three Peaks last weekend.