Wednesday, January 29, 2014


DROWNING IN BUREAUCRACY

On journeys down to Devon or Cornwall, we pass through Somerset - something we have done for 40 years or so - and it`s a pity really because Somerset is a beautiful county with spectacular scenery.  And each time we have passed through the Somerset Levels I have been fascinated by the landscape and the insularity yet the community feeling of the villages - Muchelney, Huish Episcopi,Westonzoyland, Burrowbridge and the rest.

Of course, the Levels have been in the news as a result of damaging floods, which have been going on for weeks with little sign of a let-up - yet more heavy and persistent rainfall is predicted in the next few days.   No wonder the beleaguered villagers and farmers are in despair, especially as this is by no means the first time they have had to endure all the hardship and despondency that flooding on this scale brings.   OK, we`ve had our share here in Kent - Yalding, Tonbridge, East Peckham and the like, but we`ve experienced nothing like that in Somerset.

And so, after weeks and weeks, the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, finally set foot in Somerset yesterday in a `fact finding mission.`   Unsurprisingly he was assailed by local residents and the farming community as to why nothing had been done to help them and to alleviate the problems.   His response?  Well, he was always on a hiding to nothing but he didn`t help his cause by saying, "I hope we will have a very clear action plan presented to me in six weeks` time so that I can make a categoric decision once and for all, but then long term look to see how, with partnership funding, local agencies such as the internal drainage boards, the Environment Agency, the county council, the four district councils, NGOs and people like the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts can work together......."

Drowning in bureaucracy.   It all reminded me of one of the management slogans I used to employ in a former life - "For God`s sake do something, even if you just say goodbye!"

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