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MEP urges city to back EU funding pledge

Worcester Editorial 25th Feb, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

A NEW petition urging the Prime Minister to apply to the EU Solidarity Fund to help pay for the flooding clean-up costs has been launched in Worcester.

Liberal Democrat MEP Phil Bennion joined councillors in the city last Friday (February 21) in a bid to gain signatures from residents asking for money from Brussels to help with the bill.

The European Parliament member for the West Midlands said he was keen to get the petition up and running as he believed David Cameron was reluctant to ask the EU for help.

A total of £414million is available in the fund for this year but must be bid for within 10 weeks of the first damage being caused.

It can help with repairs, rebuilding infrastructure and pay for clean-up operations.

Mr Bennion said: “The full extent of the bill to clear up after the floods is now becoming clear. Most of the structural damage was on the south west coast but the clean-up cost in Worcester alone is substantial.

“The excuse we’ve been getting from the government is that the threshold is very high and that it needs to be over £3billion nationwide and they’re not convinced that it is.

“I think some of it is pride, they don’t like to call on European money, I think that’s just pride and it’s stupid because the German’s are wealthier than us and they had a very big tranche of money last year.”

In 2008 the Government applied for the fund and received about £100million to help with the flood damage, something Mr Bennion believes is crucial this time around.

“My petition demands Mr Cameron applies right away so we can get this help now. We cannot wait any longer. It would be ridiculous for Britain not to apply to the EU when millions of pounds of new money is there for the taking.

“We’re not politically isolated in taking this stance, we’ve got support from the other parties as well, so it’s not as though there aren’t Conservatives calling for this to happen.”

The petition, which already has more than 1000 signatures, can be found at http://philbennion.org/2013-12-16-13-03-45/helping-flood-affected-communities.

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