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In Deep Water

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I simply don't think there is a viable solution to this problem. We will see more devastating flooding in this country in the coming years.
Lollo Sesti
Tarifa, Spain

If the rivers could always cope in the short term with the volume of rain that we receive, we would not have had flood plains in the first place! Inevitably there will be flooding on flood plains when rain is at its most persistent - that is simply obvious - where else is the rain supposed to go if not onto flood plains? Your programme seemed to be searching for a solution to a problem for which there is no solution once flood plains are built upon. If you are going to build on flood plains, people are going to get wet when the downpour persists over weeks. Water cannot be made just to disappear by magic. The purpose of the flood plains is to contain the excess until it can ebb away slowly. Build there at your peril.
Christopher Smith

On the flooding question discussed so admirably by your many correspondents, there is one aspect that is sometimes underplayed. It was touched on by two correspondents (Ian Dunn and Iris Moller). The obvious fact is that every flood defence built will put the displaced water somewhere else perhaps in someone else's kitchen. Mr. Prescott is obviously completely ignorant of this and recently said that when developers build in flood risk areas they should be responsible for paying for flood defences. The fact is that there should be no developments needing flood defences! Every time this is done, the general water levels will rise a little. Of course, existing properties should be given some protection but there are limits; as Dr. Moller said, flood defences will tend to produce less frequent but more catastrophic floods. This whole question can really only be tackled by a Government that understands the problems and compels local authorities to stop piecemeal developments in flood plains. I could add "or near flood plains", but let that pass for now!
Ivar Assinder

It is a "logical nonsense" that local or central government gives planning permission for houses to be built on a flood plain, but then (as shown on your programme) declines to vote the monies needed to protect those houses from flooding. If the local authority which refused to fund the flood defences in your programme was the same body which gave planning permission for the houses to be built in the first place, the people who are suffering from the flooding ought to be looking seriously at whether they can sue that local authority in negligence. Why authorise the building of houses in a place liable to flooding, if you are not willing to provide the necessary protection for them from flooding later on? This is policy making gone mad.
C. McLaughlin

It seems clear to me that the real solution to the flooding problems you outline lies in the proper targeting of government funds. It seems that the councillors in your programme have diverted money meant for flood relief to other uses. This lack of budgetary control, where budgets are plundered for other purposes is, I suggest, the reason why no matter how much money is thrown at a problem, the issues are never resolved. This is evident in government at all levels and it is up to elected representatives to ensure that local and central government officers stick to disciplined, scheduled budgets.
Pam Betts (District councillor)

Let's have a Panorama programme about the hundreds of properties that have been flooded by water off the land. My house was flooded in April 1998 due to water topping a flood bank that had received no maintenance to it for ten years. No authority or landowner is legally responsible for land drainage and that cannot be right!
Clive Curtis

The Yorkshires Council's attitude is unacceptable when one saw the trauma that these people have been put through. They acted against the Environment Agency's advice, spent the money the government had allocated to them on alternatives. The Council's response was typical of outdated nationalised industries in the 1950's. Its time to end councils' role as we know it, and bring in the practices that have regenerated our utilities. The people could have their flood defences and the overall cost to the ratepayer would be slashed. Please do a Panorama programme to show there is an alternative to the outdated means of providing services to householders.
Mervyn Lock

It should be mandatory upon planning authorities to accept the advice of the Environment Agency regarding flood plain development. There should be substantial Government payments per hectare to encourage the management of flood plains above endangered towns & villages.
Keith Iddles
Wem, Shropshire

The human race is not and never will be able to control the power of nature. Nature created flood plains to absorb the extra water flow at critical times. Building and buying houses on flood plains is sheer madness and Planning Authorities need to be free to refuse planning permission for flood plain development. It is only a matter of time before Insurance Companies will refuse to insure properties built in high risk areas anyway, but in the meantime, millions of Council tax payers, even in St.Helens, where there is no risk, are expected to pay towards protecting areas that should never have been built on in the first place. It doesn't matter how high defences are built, water channelled unnaturally will always find a way round them or will burst through them if the weight of water is powerful enough.
Keith Deakin
St.Helens, Merseyside

Given that technology can do permutations and "sums" at lightning speed, what is to prevent a penny on income tax for one year, from all of us, SPECIFICALLY for flood defences. Not to mention foot and mouth compensation. I only have a pension, but I remember the days when we all pitched in and helped in a crisis. Perhaps only the rich would object. It could be done though.

We too have suffered severe flooding, with the third highest flood in Hereford's history occurring in October 1998. Blaming the flooding on global warming is just a get out. It is the changes which have occurred to the environment such as farming practices and wide scale building which is giving us the major problem. Your programme showed the total inadequacy of the members of the Yorkshire Flood Defence Committee for that particular job. I wonder how many other councils are similarly as poorly represented. Central government must take a front seat in this matter and not treat it as a photo opportunity. We need action now not in a few years time. We also need to tackle the contributory factors not just the end product. I would much rather have the flood risk reduced than flood banks built higher.
Bill Adamson

Will the Government make up any shortfall suffered by flood victims which are conveniently classified as "uninsured losses"? I recall they said they'd do this for the victims of inner-city riots in 1981 but we're still waiting - talk as they say is cheap!
Denis Harrison
Leigh, Lancs

Flood Defence is a problem for one reason only - the lack of investment BY CENTRAL GOVERNMENT. All local government services suffer from the same problem - lack of investment BY CENTRAL GOVERNMENT. This trend of a generation is being reversed for Education Services ONLY. Perhaps Flood Defence should be transferred to DFEE.
Steve Merriman

Excellent programme. The DETR have stated that the PPG25 Revised published 8th February to control building on floodplain is binding as from that date. They have confirmed this in writing to me. North Somerset Planners are still recommending approval of 700 new houses on floodplain in this area. Why? High density development on high risk land! Para 30(iv) of the PPG states such development should not be permitted. But still they build - Will they never learn? The Environment Agency need to be more robust in their advice and learn to say NO.
John Warren
Weston Super Mare

I wonder if the thought of making our waterways deeper might help the flooding problem. In days gone by you used to see dredgers on rivers removing the silt build up, it doesn't seem to happen today.
Reg Taylor

Whilst it is wholly understandable with the pressures that are placed on local authorities to provide a wide range of important services using limited amounts of funding, there appears to have been a catastrophic breakdown in providing and maintaining flood defences in many regions. The government suggests that this has primarily been caused by climate change, I feel that this is not completely the case. The devastating floods in London and Eastern Counties in the 1950's led to the Thames flood barrier being built. In fairness this of course is absolutely necessary to prevent such flooding from effecting many millions of people, however why should people living in other counties not be protected from flood waters, especially when the effects of climate change are only going to make sea levels and thus through the knock on effects on water tables, etc make the risk of flooding events more frequent?
Paul Carey

After watching your very informative programme last night, I am wondering why nothing is being done about the root cause of such flooding in the UK, namely global warming. No one can now deny that flooding and storms are becoming more common in the UK and will continue to pose increasing problems in the future. So far, we have had the wettest winter on record - what will happen next year? Will more people lose their home, businesses and livelihoods? We can't blame the government for neglect since, until recently, flooding has been a rare occurrence in the UK so there was never any need for major flood defences! I think those that pollute ought to pay for all the storm and flood damage - how about hitting the oil/car companies where it hurts? How about an "environmental tax" on each petrol vehicle the car makers produce? After all it is their fault that we cannot drive non-polluting vehicles, even though the technology exists to do so! I think particularly in America that the polluter does not pay for the damage they cause to people's homes, livelihoods and the planet.
Ian Hosier

The dynamics of water flow make "one person's flood prevention - another's extra flood water". Rather than continually try to keep ahead of changing water levels - a policy that has a history of continual failure elsewhere - why not identify the areas of risk (not difficult) and buy up all residential/commercial property at risk? Leave the flood prone areas clear for other uses. The total costs of this approach is unlikely to be more than a programme of flood defence, and will effectively be a one-off cost.
Ian Dunn

The programme illustrated how difficult is the task of conveying to non-flood victims the extent and intensity of suffering, disorientation and displacement experienced by those whose lives have been so disrupted. By turns the programme made me feel uncontrollably angry at the levels of ignorance and lack of compassion displayed and yet powerless and disenfranchised because it is unlikely to be considered a matter requiring urgent and unstinting government action. Describing what it is like to be a flood victim is difficult because the process is long drawn out and insidious but seeing other sufferers on the programme helped to ease the guilt and sense of personal failure that continues to nag, telling me that I shouldn't be so weak, shouldn't give in so easily, I did everything I could but it wasn't enough. "Turn it off daddy, turn it off" shouts my three year old if I leave the bath running and unattended. He wasn't afraid before the floods. It makes me sad and I feel that I have failed him. Who is responsible for allowing these inadequate flood defences to persist? Who will take responsibility for putting them to rights so that flood victims can reclaim their lives?
Kevin Skelding
Boscombe Village, Salisbury

Whilst it is clear that flood barriers are inadequate the real source of the flooding problem was not even mentioned during the course of the programme. Draining or "gripping" of the Yorkshire dales and moors has been the major cause of the floods. Until this process is reversed, barriers will not prevent further flooding.
Gordon Fallowfield

I know the foot and mouth disaster has overshadowed the flooding, but why was there no appeal to help the flood victims? We immediately have appeals for overseas disasters, but none for our own people. I know most people, free from flooding, would have been only too pleased to have helped in some way.
Lindy East

I should like to register my support for the line taken by the Environment Agency in seeking more efficient and effective ways to manage the flood defences of England and Wales. I look forward to reading the inter-departmental report on future flood defence management later in the year. I should also like to recommend that those members of the public who are concerned about the likelihood of flooding can view indicative flood plain maps on the Agency's Internet site: under "Floodline".
Stefan Carlyle

Having just watched the programme I was very sad to learn of the people's understandable distress over their plight of flooded homes, and having also just read the ceefax that the government is pledging 20 million pounds to support "smart kitchens" i.e. washing machines that can read labels and fridges to order food. I can only assume the government has gone mad. The Yorkshire people must seriously be considering where to put their next vote. This 20 million would go a long way to solving at least some of these problems wouldn't it?
Mrs Weatherburn

Millions of pounds was wasted on the millennium dome. Why can't lottery money be used for the good cause of flood defences for the whole of the country. I suspect that lottery sales would rise also if people felt their money was being put to some good use instead of wasted.
mrs K Binge
Malton, North Yorkshire

While definitely not wishing to detract from the hardships of Yorkshire people shown in the programme, I am amazed that there was no reference at all to other parts of the country. Parts of Lewes were flooded on 12th October 2000 and there are still many who cannot yet return home and businesses in the flooded area still closed pending building repair work. A few moments, at least, could surely have been spared to refer to all the areas affected in the rest of the country.
Margaret Hulmes

Thanks for you programme which was long overdue. The aspects of Climate Change could have done with more depth (pardon the pun) but I realise you had to put forward the people of Yorkshire who had been the worst affected. Your programme was quite disappointing in that it did not bring up the issue of Planning Policy Guidance 25, which is now a material planning consideration for local authorities. This calls on local authorities and developers to examine carefully the implications of any proposed development in flood plain. Developers will also be called upon to inform their clients and take on extra flood insurance etc. Here in Derby, the City Council are planning to build non-essential development in the City's floodplain, right next to the River Derwent. The latest guidance on PPG 25 warns against such development. As it is a massive re-development scheme, the extra surface water run-off will further endanger more homes down stream. Again, PPG 25 warns against this. More details on
Dorothy Smith
Derby City

I, along with many others I am sure, felt so sorry and so angry for the plight of those affected by the floods. I would be willing to pay extra on my council tax if I knew it was going to pay for proper flood defences where they are needed. What is it with politicians, councillors and all the rest of those elected to public office? They seem to think that election to public office automatically endows them with qualities they didn't possess before i.e. common sense, business acumen, humanity. They are only elected because they can talk longer and louder than anyone else. The councillor (in the programme) who was bleating about having to cut expenditure on other projects (I believe recycling was one) should realise that people are more important than projects. Excuse the cynicism, but it comes along with the grey hair. Councils are notorious for wasting money on projects that are non-essential - come to Sutton in Surrey and see our prettily paved streets that are not maintained properly and are a danger to the old and infirm alike.
Mrs. Christine McLean
Sutton, Surrey

The programme lacked any emphasis on the scientific side of this debate. If this had been taken into account it would have become clear that floods of varying magnitude (including much more severe floods than those experienced recently) have been common throughout the past 100's to 1000's of years. Given the natural variability and dynamics of river systems, better and higher flood defences are NOT a long term sustainable solution. Higher flood defence may reduce the risk of flooding on a short term basis but a residual risk is ALWAYS there - and if these higher defences breach, the damage will be enormous and devastating. High defences may lull people into a false sense of security. It would be much better (and the programme should have made more of this!) to stop development on floodplains or to encourage the design of buildings in such a way as to cope with smaller but more frequent floods. History has shown that people CAN live with frequent but minor flood events. It is the provision of flood defences themselves that has led to these more infrequent and more major floods! In many areas, if the defences weren't there at all, development would not have taken place or would have taken frequent minor flooding into account.
Dr Iris Moller

There is no excuse for such a rich country to neglect the flood defences in the way that it has for so long.
Mrs O Tutin

It is an appalling carry on when we are told on the programme that our so called government do not have the money available to provide our people with adequate flood protection. Yet they can spend billions satisfying their masters in Brussels, and many millions on promoting Europe and in preparation for the single currency when they do not have the mandate from the British people for this. It is about time that our pathetic politicians of all parties stopped pussy footing about and started looking after the British People for a change by putting this money into Britain where it belongs. I can't imagine any British citizen who does not feel the same. For God's sake Blair do what you were elected to do by me and many millions of others. Get working for our country and the people instead of farting about spending time and vast amounts of money on other irrelevancies.
Malcolm Darby
Oakham, Rutland

I agree with the comments made by Elizabeth Smith about local authorities' responsibilities as well as her comments about storm water drainage. The Environment Agency was planning to build a wall along the river to reduce the flood risk in our area from 1:10 to 1:100. However they withdrew this scheme last autumn and have replaced it with a proposal which is far less satisfactory. The reason is that the former scheme is too expensive because it would also require improvements to the ancient surface water drainage system, which anyway should have been tackled years ago. The Environment Agency is obliged to use a rigid risk/benefit model which, for example, apparently does not take into account the large amount of money that was spent on sandbagging and pumping water out of the storm drains on just one 'near miss' flood event a few weeks ago.
Sheila v Rimscha

Not once was the word "Survey" or "Surveyor" mentioned. Many of these people had brand new homes as far as I could see from the programme - so what did their "surveyors" have to say when they had their "surveys" done before they bought? What did the building societies/banks make of the "surveyors" reports? As far as I'm concerned, surveyors should be aware of the changing environment (in an ideal world) instead of looking for the next 300 for climbing up a ladder and inspecting a chimney. Did the buyers ignore advice? If so, why? Searches are possible. Did no one have one made? If you are planning to live in the home of your dreams, wouldn't you make sure there were no problems to stand in your way before laying out a huge some of money?

Water obeys the laws of gravity and has to go somewhere. People who buy property on flood plains are at risk of inundation where the quantum received exceeds the means to take away. Your programme shows that flood defences are being neglected, and that people are buying without being given proper information by councils as to the risk they are buying into. What a mess! The government should only allow houses to be built on land which is not at risk, or on land which the government is then willing to protect properly. Your programme succeeded in showing serious local and central government mismanagement. Well done. Will anything now be done to cure these problems however?
John Mawdson

Property situated on UK flood plain is rendered effectively worthless by the recent floods. Who would currently buy any property in the UK without being aware of flood liability ? The effected people in Yorkshire etc. are now in a situation where in order to regain the purchase value of their property they will have to ensure that the property is protected against flooding. These people will be forced to pursue local councils and government until flood defences are in place. In my opinion this situation will serve to expose the disgraceful truth about local government in the UK. If the UK is apparently the 4th largest economy in the world, why is our infra-structure in such an appalling state?
Adam Mauger

Do you think that environmental solutions to flooding such as aforestation and flooding farmland may be the way forwards for flood defences? The engineering solutions are more expensive and although they may protect one area they only move the problem along the river. I think we have probably caused more damage trying to control the rivers than there may have been if we had not. The floods plains are there for a reason. Do you think that we would have these problems if we had not tried to control the rivers? I think people should be told that a 100 year flood does not mean that it will only flood every 100 years! I was doing a project on flooding in Shrewsbury and I found that their application for flood defences was turned down because it would spoil the look of the town. Do you think that is a good enough reason?
C Davies

It is my understanding that, since privatisation, the water companies have consistently creamed in massive profits. Judging from the bills I receive from Thames Water (for a single person living in a 2-bedroom cottage), I can well believe this to be true. However, our service has not noticeably improved. Oxford is constantly awash with fractured mains, leaking holes in the road, etc., etc. Therefore why can't the government impose some statutory obligation on the water companies to both account for profit 'reallocation', and perhaps redirect at least a percentage of their annual profits to the Environment Agency for the upkeep and maintenance of our rivers and waterways - including flood defence? At the end of the day, surely it all comes under the same heading - i.e. WATER - and surely everybody involved with the management of our water supply should be pulling together, rather than operating in myriad separate and unmanageable spheres? Just look at what has happened to our railway system (as a shining example of where that ultimately leads us).
H. Milles

The 'Nene Flood Prevention Alliance' was formed shortly after the devastating 'Easter Floods' of 1998 when a huge swathe of Northampton was hit by flooding. We are still questioning a variety of bodies, particularly The Environment Agency on the inadequacies highlighted following this event. We continue in our fight for a carefully structured flood defence programme, rather than 'quick fix' solutions. We would be interested in feedback from any similar groups to ourselves, possibly with a view to forming a national alliance.
Brendan Glynane, chairman NFPA

It is a fact of life that some land is at a lower level than other land. It is relatively easy to find out if the property you are buying is liable to flooding, or not. People are silly to take on this risk. They then expect others to sort out the problem they took on, for them. One answer to the problems you helpfully highlighted, which viewers will hopefully take on board, is "Don't buy in a flood-risk area". Thank you for that message.
Colin Hughes

"The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain." This principle applies also in this country: take note, housebuyers!

I watched the programme with many tears, a lot of empathy and much anger. My family and 15 other families were evacuated from our homes on the 16th December 2000 due to several feet of water entering our homes, not from a river, we do not live near one but from underground. The water table is, we are told, at an unprecedented level and that along with the fact that our property was, apparently built on a site which has a history of flooding and underground springs, has led to this 'problem.' We have now been living in temporary accommodation for over 13 weeks whilst our lives feel like they are on hold. The water is STILL in our property and until such time as it recedes/soaks away there is no possibility of surveys etc. being carried out. We did not knowingly buy /rent with this problem and it did not become clear as to the potential extent of the problem until 1995 when we had a flooded site but no water in the properties. I am not asking people to feel sorry for me and I applaud charitable acts to third world countries and disasters nationally and internationally but must agree with one of your other writers who commented on the lack of government intervention/support. I suppose it is not as newsworthy as sending large sums of money abroad and probably would not bring as much glory to this wretched government. I am well aware that the farmers are having an awful time at the moment but spare a thought for those of us who have absolutely no idea how much longer we will be 'camping out' or even if we will get our homes back.
Charlotte Drew
Alton, Hampshire

We should build houses on stilts, like other countries.

The flooding in Yorkshire is not new. When doing National Service with the royal engineers in 1947, the river Ouse burst it's banks and I was taken to Barlby put in charge of a collapsible boat. We rowed up the roads and threw a rope to people living upstairs in their houses so they could haul up food which we had loaded into a basket. If they could show a baby at the window they were given a bottle of milk. We wondered why babies in adjoining houses seemed to look the same and if they had another boat at the back to transport it!
Pat Lister
Cranleigh, Surrey

On the evidence of the programme, local authorities are not fit to control the flow of funds to the Environment Agency. Central Government should take the control away and administer the funds directly, adjusting the Block Grant system accordingly.
Rupert Edwards

I have been flooded 3 times since November 2000, the last time being February 8th 01. The environment agency state they will not be able to do anything to help this happening again. I am very angry at this response as Colnbrook is built on a flood plain, but this did not show up on the local search when I bought the property. I and my partner have physically cleared & dug a storm drain that is supposed to help with flooding which both the local council & environment agency have left to get into a very poor condition with each saying it's the others responsibility. Today I hear that we are on flood alert yet again - I just feel very helpless. I have not been able to live in my house since the last flood and I was hoping to be able to move back in the end of this month. My insurance company have said that they may not insure us again as we have had two claims in three months. Enough is enough, we pay a very high council tax and from what I can see the only thing I get out of it from the local council is having my one bin emptied once a week.
Sammi Pine
Colnbrook, Slough

I was very distressed to see how people are living in the Yorkshire villages. The council meeting was a sham and the men on that committee need showing up. I always thought charity began at home. Never mind Red nose day - let's help our own. Government must make allowances for the flood defences, with our changing climate these floods will probably return every year and people cannot be expected to deal with this terrible situation 2 or 3 times a year.
Mrs J Jones
Wallington, Surrey

Having watched the programme, it disheartens me to think that democracy in this country works behind closed doors and even drawn curtains. Shrewsbury was also very badly affected recently, and the same secret meetings take place here. We as sufferers of the floods are excluded from meetings between the Local Authority and the Environment Agency. Since November when both Blair and Prescott promised help to those affected, small businesses in Shrewsbury have not received a penny piece. Charity does not begin at home, as some correspondents would have you believe, but politicians will score points whenever and at whoever's expense happens to be in the public eye at that time. I just hope the farmers get all the compensation being promised at the moment in the wake of foot and mouth, or will they be the next forgotten victims?
Rob Wormstone

Don't you think it is time that when central government makes money available for specific projects that the local councils must be obliged to use the money for the intended purpose. The promise of personal surcharge on dissenting councillors should galvanise the appropriate action!
Tim Shakesby

We are still living upstairs in our house having been flooded three times since October 2000. Having listened to reasoned argument on various occasions I still cannot get an answer as to why the river Severn is no longer dredged. Up until a few years ago this was done on a regular basis. Now, since its cessation, boats that used to travel to Tewkesbury from Gloucester no longer do so - there is not the depth of water to allow their passage I am told. Just north of Gloucester vast mud banks have formed - blocking the flow of the water. If the river beds are now filled with mud, - surely there is not the capacity for the water that there once was? Perhaps it is not the whole answer, but for the people of the area it would solve a great deal of the problem. Please, please, please give it some consideration.
Lorna Bain
Tirley, Gloucester

As an Agency employee I do not think that the continuing use of 1 in 100 year flood event is useful to anyone to explain the frequency of flooding - do you understand what it means ? Also, I am disappointed that the proposed PPG25 was not mentioned - this will be a great help to people who buy new properties in the future. Homes will have to assessed by the Developer as to whether they are at risk of flooding and a sequential approach will be taken - high risk areas must be avoided and homes must be made flood proof. Homes like those at Barlby and those poor people would not be in their situation if PPG25 had been existence at this time.

I think that the flood defences mentioned in tonight's programme are the responsibility of the country as a whole and not just the counties affected, and secondly, if Britain can afford to send millions of 's in aid to other countries and spend millions of 's defending people from aggressors abroad, then I think they can spend millions of 's on flood defences in Britain.
Sarah Cudmore

Flood defences should be funded directly by the government and not through the local rates system.
Mrs J. McLintic

Fire Brigades were invented by insurance companies. Would it not similarly be in insurance companies' self interest to contribute towards flood defences and so mitigate against claims?
Peter Kingston

I have contacted the 'Today' programme and Newsroom south-east to ask why are we not having an appeal for the victims of the autumn and winter floods. We are asked to support Eritrea, Somalia and San Salvador quite right and proper. We have dug deeply for these charities. Why not for our own?? Doesn't charity begin at home?
Reg Standen

I don't live on a flood plain or by a river. I have lived in this house 22 years without the remotest sign of flooding. Since Feb 5th 2001 my house has been surrounded by water and my neighbour has had to move out. The excuse from the District Council is that Hertfordshire's water table has risen 16ft.
J Courtney
St Albans

If local authorities are not spending the money given for flood defences by central government that money should be given directly to the environment agency. There is also an issue concerning local government which is run voluntarily by mostly elderly males, a most undemocratic process which needs radically overhauling. Eastbourne is the same, building has been taking place in low lying areas/flood plains with the blessing of the elderly councillors (one aged 80+) who will not be around to see the awful consequences.
Louise Westwood

Flooding could be avoided throughout the UK if all rivers were dredged as they used to be and if farmers were made to reinstate the drainage ditches they have filled in. There should also be a ban on building on flood plains.
Don Steel
Chippenham, Wiltshire

I suspect that many of those complaining about the lack of investment on flood defences would have been amongst those who enthusiastically supported the tax cuts of the 1980's. Unfortunately one person's tax cut is someone else's under investment or spending cut. All politicians whether local or national want to be loved but at the end of the day we get the politicians we deserve. A comedian on Channel Four earlier this evening summed it up. We pay what we regard as first world taxes (the third lowest in the developed world) but get third world infrastructure. I hope people wake up to the need to pay for what we need long term, not go for a few extra bob in the pocket in the short term.
M. Green

Well done. Most of the key issues were identified. Clearly the research team gathered much information that would be useful to influence change and improvement.
Mike Brewer

A comment made by one of your flood victim interviewees was one of Insurability. Obviously, insurance companies will have been stung hard over these last few months for compensations by house/building owners, and they will be very reluctant (a mild word in this context) to underwrite the same properties again unless they have cast iron assurances that this situation will not recur. Thoughts must also go to the people who may have building insurance but not cover for their contents. Maybe there is room for discussion as to there being a compulsory insurance cover system administered by a government agency who are legally responsible for making sure house owners are given adequate cover (and paid it) immediately after such an event as is under discussion in this programme.
David Carroll

I cannot believe that a local authority could act in the way shown tonight, what short sighted cowards. Please convey my disgust to them along with all the other contributors
B.J. Hadfield
South Molton

There was no mention of the drop in level of the eastern side of the country which will make flooding progressively worse even if sea levels do not increase as a result of global warming. In fact there was far too much whingeing - by mainly the same people, and far too little fact. Has Panorama ceased to do any meaningful research?
John B Evans

People who are frequently flooded deserve better treatment from the central and local governments. In Chesterfield certain areas suffer consistently, some in the town centre. Yet this month work is being started on dealing with sporadic flooding out in the countryside with no effect on homes at a cost to the ratepayer of 20,000 - surely this should go to the populated areas.
M. Mullins

Your programme highlighted the sort of muddle, mismanagement and political responsibility-dodging which is typical of this country. Anyone stupid enough to buy a house at risk of flooding and leave themselves in the hands of "others" for their protection in this country needs their head examining.
Paul King

Your programme showed a lot of people who bought houses in potential ponds, complaining because other people did not keep them dry. The answer is not to buy in a potential pond.
Winston Smith

What a great programme, I hope that government sits up and listens to the voices of Yorkshire and those who are effected by flood waters! Again Well Done BBC PANORAMA, as usual a great programme!
Matthew Bramhall (18)

Tonight's programme concentrated on flood defences. Drainage should have been considered. Local Authorities it seems have lost much of the responsibility for drainage. Storm water drains are neglected, pumping stations are cleaned much less frequently and the entire drainage infra structure is less efficient because the local authority trained workers have been replaced by contractors. The Environment Agency took over from the river authorities. The point being each authority is replaced at regular intervals. The in depth knowledge of the drainage system is dissipated. The work force does not have the historic knowledge of how the drainage system functions and local knowledge about water flows and other technical and geographical knowledge is lost for ever. The failure to provide technical education and the use of contract labour results in incompetence and lack of accountability. The programme should also have looked at how the Dutch manage flood protection. It was useful to expose the less than adequate links between the developer and the local authority planning department. The possibility of flooding has not to my knowledge been regarded as a material consideration when councillors consider planning applications.
Elizabeth Smith
Burnham, Bucks

I watched the programme tonight and think it is absolutely appalling that the flood defences have not been sufficiently maintained. I can imagine nothing worse than being flooded out with freezing cold water in the middle of winter - this seems to be another example of underfunding combined with priority of commercial interests in allowing houses to be built on a flood plain without raising the floor levels. A flood plain is called a flood plain because it is going to get flooded! Somebody has not done their homework here - the responsibility surely lies with the planners to make sure this doesn't happen and some redress should be available to the people who are still suffering - they have all my sympathy.
Violet Milne

Although this was billed as a programme about flood defences in Britain it did not mention Scotland, nor did it apply to Scotland. However, the programme stated that the Environment Agency is responsible for flood defences in Britain. This is not correct. The EA has no jurisdiction in Scotland. Come on Panorama we expect higher factual standards than that.
Richard Leslie

Most of the people in the programme would have been to school in the sixties and seventies, before "Physical Geography" slipped off the curriculum - I find their attitude of "No one told me that floodplains get flooded" rather hard to swallow - and those arrogant people who actually expect to sell their house, presumably thinking they will find someone as stupid as they were? Amazing stuff. Good programme as was the previous one on floods).
Trevor Harwood
Morecambe, Lancs

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