David Cameron confronted on visit to flood-hit Todmorden
Thursday 28 June 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron was confronted by a member of the public today as he visited one of the towns affected by the recent devastating floods.
Mr Cameron was leaving the town hall in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, when Kathleen Simpson surprised him as he was getting into his car.
Ms Simpson asked the Prime Minister a number of animated questions about local issues, including the floods, as he stood on the pavement.
Mr Cameron had just left a meeting with council officials and emergency services workers about the deluge which hit the town on Friday night.
Earlier, he visited the flood-damaged home of Sarah-Jayne Robins in Todmorden.
Miss Robins was trapped for 12 hours upstairs in her home when water poured out of the nearby canal.
Ms Simpson's intervention came two days after Mr Cameron was heckled by an official London 2012 volunteer during a speech to mark the month-to-go countdown to the start of the Olympics.
The Prime Minister was told he should be "ashamed of himself" as was making a speech to about 200 Games Maker volunteers.
Before he left Todmorden Town Hall today, Mr Cameron said: "First of all, one's sympathy just goes out to people who had their homes flooded and have seen so many treasured possessions destroyed.
"But what you see is an incredibly strong community come together with real purpose - very positive - to help each other out.
"It really needs to be said to thank everyone who took part in it.
"The Government stands by to help in any way we can.
"The council's doing a good job.
"We will fill in any gaps if that's required."
The Prime Minister added: "This is a beautiful area of our country and it's absolutely open for business."
Asked about insurance issues faced by residents, Mr Cameron said there were short-term hardship funds available.
"Longer term, we need another deal with the insurance companies so they do what it says on the tin - insurance, they provide people with cover against flooding.
"The Government is in discussion with them and we are going to have a robust discussion to make sure they have the cover that people deserve."
Mr Cameron talked about investment in flood relief but said: "That will never protect everybody.
"There was a month's rain that fell in 24 hours.
"You can't protect against some of that but we'll do everything we can."
Miss Robins showed Mr Cameron around the sodden ground floor of her back-to-back home, which is on a road between the River Calder and the Rochdale Canal.
She said flood water poured in on Friday evening and she had no choice but to shelter upstairs with her 18-month-old miniature poodle, Pepper. Miss Robins, 31, said she had to stay there until almost lunchtime on Saturday.
She said: "My family said they'd try and rescue me but they just couldn't get near.
"Everything downstairs is just wrecked.
"Now it's just got to dry out. It's devastating, really."
Miss Robins, who has lived in the rented property for 18 months, told the Prime Minister she is struggling to find the £100 insurance excess she needs.
Mr Cameron asked her about the insurance situation and how her neighbours had been affected.
Around 900 homes were affected by flooding in the Calderdale area at the weekend.
Huge rainfall brought knee-deep water to Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd as well as Todmorden.
Areas of Lancashire and Cumbria were also badly affected.
Mr Cameron went on to talk to volunteers who were using the town hall kitchen to prepare meals for people whose own kitchens were wrecked by the deluge.
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