Local Lancashire Member of the European Parliament, Sajjad Karim, has visited the flood struck village of Whalley.
Accompanying local Ribble Valley Councillor, Ged Merfin, Saj particularly wanted to thank members of the Whalley and District Lions Club who spearheaded the rescue and clean-up operations.
Speaking with Lions President Gillian Darbyshire and Vice President Neil Martin, Saj heard how volunteers have worked tirelessly since the initial flooding, ensuring those affected have had whatever support required.
Commenting Sajjad said “It’s clear that Lions members were able to call on their collective wide experience to help the many residents who have had to move out of their homes or who now have to sort out the aftermath of water invasion into their house. Providing a wide range of support from sourcing alternative accommodation to just talking to so many distresses residents.
Local Lions members have been supported by the hundreds of volunteers from local people, other Lions Clubs and a wide range of charities, including several local charities and from as far afield as Birmingham and London, who have provided food and household goods.
Saj who lives in Ribble Valley and whose home has also been flooded over Christmas was deeply moved by what he heard from Gill, Neil and Ged.
“With over 250 homes affected everyone who has helped has done a remarkable job of supporting the large number of residents affected. Ged took me down to Longworth Road where from 35 houses only 3 properties are now occupied.
“In thanking everyone who has worked so hard and I am particularly thankful to those who travelled many miles to assist.”
“Whilst the Lions paid a warm tribute to MP Nigel Evans and Ribble Valley Council who ‘went above and beyond’ their areas of responsibility, it is a matter of grave concern that 10 days on, there has been no contact or support from Lancashire County Council.”
Over a million pounds of support has come in from voluntary donations, Sajjad pledged to work to ensure the maximum amount of government and EU funding is available saying “With so much of my North West constituency affected by the worst floods for a century it is imperative every possible source of funding to rebuild people’s lives, the local economy and infrastructure is explored.
“I have already written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and I am working closely with European, local government and Westminster colleagues. I am actively seeking clarification on sources of EU funding which may include the EU Solidarity Fund. Longer term requirements could well qualify for assistance from EU Structural Funds and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development for these costs”
Cllr Ged Mirfin responded "I am pleased that Saj will be taking the message straight to the European Parliament just how badly we have been affected in Whalley and Billington, how local groups of
Volunteers and the Borough Council rose to the challenge when the County Council's presence was palpable by its absence and that Saj will also be helping to try and identify sources of funding from the EU to assist in the necessary long-term reconstruction and rectification work that will be required to put right the damage that has occurred to key infrastructure: rivers, roads, pavements, bridges and of course flood defences. I look forward to working with him on this on an ongoing basis."