News Debris washed up by flood water in Moorland, where 40 square miles of the Somerset Levels remain underwater

Officials were told 12 months ago that rivers posed a serious risk but failed to take any action

Letter: Funding the BBC

Sir: Over the coming weeks, the Government will decide its response to the Davies Report on the funding of the BBC. It is a critical moment not just for the BBC, but for the future of broadcasting in this country.

Parliament: Braodcasting: Select committee urges Smith to stop BBC licence surcharge

THE BBC reacted with dismay, and commercial broadcasters with delight, when the Culture, Media and Sport select committee opposed the corporation's desired levy on digital television viewers.

What about a little democracy in the arts?

`The man in charge of the country's arts doesn't actually fund a single theatre or gallery'

Labour to ditch free museums promise

THE GOVERNMENT'S promise of universal free admission to the nation's galleries and museums is to be dropped.

Leading Article: An artless response

UNIVERSAL free admission to the national galleries and museums was one of the few absolute commitments to the arts this Government made. Now it is backing down. It hasn't got the money. More important, it hasn't got the will. Chris Smith, the Culture Secretary, is a good man with instincts many in the arts community applaud. But the signs are that he is not going to win the battle with his colleagues for the cash required to fulfil the pledge.

Cheapest seats at Opera House `doubled in price'

DOUBTS ARE being cast on the Royal Opera House's boast that it has reduced ticket prices for its reopening as "the people's opera".

Letter: Whose heritage?

Sir: I was disappointed that the article by Fran Abrams, "Britain is losing art to wealthy foreigners" (1 December), seemed to imply that the Heritage Lottery Fund was responsible for the "heritage crisis" described in the annual report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art.

Football: Wembley Fiasco: Wembley remains centre-piece of World Cup bid

THE FOOTBALL Association last night moved to dismiss fears that the chaos surrounding plans for the new pounds 475m Wembley stadium could undermine England's bid for the 2006 World Cup.

Outlook: Camelot nosedive

"CAMELOT PROFITS tumble by pounds 50 a minute". It is not quite the headline those fed on a diet of lottery fatcat scandals have come to expect. Three- quarters of the way through their seven-year franchise, the fact is the shining knights of the mid-week rollover are losing some of their sparkle. Or, as the Camelot chairman George Russell prefers to put it, the lottery's "natural lifecycle has impacted on sales".

Media: Here's shocking news: ITV did the right thing

Moving News at Ten to a later slot after 32 years attracted criticism from all sides. But it was a brave decision which has strengthened the channel's overall output, argues Melvyn Bragg

So why do you want to be a mayor, Mr Dobson?

`The selection panel will be daft, so the candidates should tell the same lies as anyone going for a job'

Letter: Not guilty ... I was there

Sir: Alan Watkins ("When it comes to World Cups, football is what interests Blair", 9 November) accuses me of not having shown any interest in the recent Rugby World Cup, nor sent any support, moral or physical, to the England squad. What rubbish.

Purge the BBC of its obsession with youth and ratings

I KNOW how Greg Dyke is going to be feeling this morning when he gets out of the chauffeur driven car at Broadcasting House and goes up to his office. It will be rather like I did that January morning back in 1988 when I negotiated my way past security and waited expectantly in the lobby of Television Centre to be told where my office was located.

Rugby World Cup: Hoppe will fight back after Kiwi Tri-Series omission

SEAN HOPPE hopes to use his stint at St Helens as a springboard to bounce back into the New Zealand team after being left out of their squad for next month's Tri-Series.

Rugby League: Smith's gaffes are grand gift to Bradford

Bradford Bulls 40 St Helens 4
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