PM David Cameron: Government will pick up the tab to repair Cornwall's flood-hit communities
Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted Cornwall is still very much in business and has promised Government funds to pay for infrastructure repairs caused by the storms that have ripped through the county.
Mr Cameron was speaking at Newquay Airport where he met Cornwall Council leader John Pollard and chief executive Andrew Kerr who outlined to the PM the scale of the problems facing the county.
Mr Cameron said the Government would provide the money to get Cornwall back in business.
He announced he would be lifting the 85 per cent threshold under the Bellwin scheme to aid local authorities affected by coastal storms and flooding.
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The Prime Minister also said that the Government would subsidise flights from Newquay with passengers paying £5 less for their tickets in the coming weeks.
FlyBe have doubled the number of flights from Newquay to Gatwick, to compensate for the disruption caused to rail passengers by the destruction of the mainline track at Dawlish.
The company has also brought in larger planes to cater for the expected demand.
Mr Cameron said: “ Instead of providing 85 per cent (under the Bellwin scheme) we will be providing 100 per cent for Cornwall, so the council will be reimbursed at this time.
“ As for future, we announced last week that £130 million extra will be provided to local authorities and I’m sure Cornwall will get its share.’’
“ Flybe will now be providing six flights a day, and as from Wednesday, there will be £5 off ticket prices while the Dawlish rail link is out.
“Cornwall is open for business, and I will be encouraging people to come to Cornwall,’’ said Mr Cameron.
Earlier the Prime Minister had visited Kingsand to see for himself the damage caused by the storms, and in the morning was in Plymouth talking train operator First Great Western about ensuring its replacement bus services were as good as they possibly could be.
“I’ve also been talking to Network Rail about the long term future and a more resilient rail link to the peninsular, and I will also be speaking to Network Rail in a few minutes time about restoring the Dawlish link as soon as possible.’’
Mr Cameron said he would be having a telephone meeting with other members of Cobra, the Government’s national emergency committee to get the track problems at Dawlish resolved as soon as possible.
Cornwall Council leader John Pollard said he welcomed the Prime Minister’s visit to the county.
“Cornwall is one of the areas which has been worst affected by the recent storms and the bill for repairs is rising all the time” said Mr Pollard. “The latest estimate of the costs of repairing our infrastructure is £21.35m and we emphasised to the Prime Minister the importance of ensuring that Cornwall does not have to fight against other areas of the country for the additional funding it needs”.
“We are also very grateful for the Government’s decision to reduce the threshold for the Bellwin scheme to help large authorities like Cornwall and we have asked Mr Cameron to further extend the time for submitting claims under the scheme to give us enough time to put our bid together.’’
The council’s chief executive Andrew Kerr said: “The Prime Minister certainly recognised the impact of the closure of the main rail line on Cornwall and announced that the Department of Transport would be providing a grant enabling us to give a reduction of £5 per person per flight for the next two weeks. The grant, which will begin this Wednesday, will be available to people travelling on all UK flights out of Newquay during this two week period.”