Brown visits flood devastation region

Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived in Cumbria today to see flood damage and meet people affected by the record breaking rainfall in the area.





He joined Environment Hilary Benn and met members of the emergency services at Penrith police station.



Homes are still being searched today as residents braced themselves for more rain after England's wettest day on record caused chaos, flooding homes, sweeping away bridges and claiming the life of a policeman.



PC Bill Barker, 44, a father of four, died after a bridge on which he was standing was swept away by flood waters in Workington.

At a joint meeting today including representatives from the police, fire and rescue service, army, county council, and the Highways and Environment Agencies, Gordon Brown thanked them for their work during the crisis.



The Prime Minister said: "Thank you for the coordinated work you've done and the superb response you've given.



"The way the emergency services have come together has given the whole country pride in what you do.



"I'm sorry about the loss of Pc Bill Barker, and I know he was a very brave and heroic man.



"What you have done over the last few days is tackle one of the greatest rainfalls we've seen in our country and you've done it will such superb organisation that I wanted to tell you on behalf of the whole country how proud we are of you."

The Chief Constable of Cumbria Police, Craig Mackey, told Sky News the investigation into the death of Pc Barker was still at a "very early stage".

He said: "Clearly we are looking at the incident and I wouldn't what to speculate on exactly what happened."



He described Pc Barker as "a hero officer who went to work to protect the people of Cumbria and didn't come home".



The police officer who died would have celebrated his 45th birthday today.



He was directing motorists away from Northside bridge when it collapsed and he disappeared into the swollen waters of the River Derwent at about 4.40am yesterday.



The officer, from Egremont, served with Cumbria Police for 25 years and leaves a wife, Hazel, and four children.

Members of a Facebook page set up in the wake of the floods have called for the replacement for Northside bridge to be named after the officer.



The chief constable said he was confident emergency services could cope with the situation despite forecasts of more rain in the coming days.



But he said: "This is going to be a long term recovery operation in Cumbria. We've seen major damage to the county's infrastructure, road bridges, roads, major routes still impassable now."



He warned people to stay away from bridges, where structural engineers and the military were still assessing safety issues.



A total of 11 bridges remain closed across the county.



The chief constable said now was not the time for "sightseeing" and urged anyone thinking of coming to Cumbria to stay away.



Asked about whether enough had been done in the way of flood defences, Shadow Environment Secretary Nick Herbert told Sky News now was not the time for recrimination.

Speaking in Cockermouth, he said the Environment Agency described the event as "unprecedented", adding: "They are saying that it would be questionable whether they could produce flood defences that would deal with the river levels as they were.



"Clearly this is the sort of thing that has to be looked at afterwards. I can understand if people have been flooded twice within a few years, they ask the question 'couldn't the flood defences be better?'



"Of course we've got to look at that sort of thing sensibly but I don't think this is the moment for recrimination.



"We've got all the emergency services working flat out. For the moment let's just give support to the people that are doing their best."





Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvSpoiler alert: It has been talked about for months
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - West Midlands - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - Yorkshire & Humber - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Embedded Linux Engineer - C / C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A well funded smart home compan...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?