During ‘Topical Questions’ in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Alex Fergusson asked the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, to consider providing direct financial aid to businesses and households that have been affected by the recent floods across the region.
Following the Q&A session Mr Fergusson said: “I visited Carsphairn on Monday morning and I have taken a number of calls from businesses and individuals across my constituency who have suffered devastating damage through absolutely no fault of their own.
“They need financial help, and they need it now, and they are acutely aware that people in similar situations just across the border in Cumbria are receiving that help from the UK Government.
“I am therefore deeply disappointed by the Deputy First Minister’s response, which was essentially to say that the Government would make money available to the local council so that it can relieve relevant premises from Council Tax.
“Every penny is, of course, welcome, but it doesn’t come close to the direct aid that is available south of the border.
“Some householders in Carsphairn have now been flooded out of their houses three years in a row, and all the Scottish Government can say is that it will look at Council Tax rebates.
“While I welcome the Government’s commitment to longer term flood prevention schemes, I cannot welcome its blinkered approach to the current disastrous situation that is affecting too many of my constituents, and I will continue to press the Government on this matter.”
Mr Fergusson has also praised the efforts of the emergency services and other volunteers in the wake of the recent flooding across his constituency.
He said: “I am truly impressed at the efforts made by our emergency services during the recent appalling weather that has caused so much damage to businesses and households across the region.
“Many of the individuals involved are part time, and would have been expecting to have been enjoying a peaceful holiday at home, yet their selfless devotion to duty and the wellbeing of others shone through superbly.
“In similar fashion, affected communities have shown the strength of community spirit that is so prominent in our area, and watching neighbours helping each other out in the most adverse of conditions can only be described as humbling in the extreme.
“My role as the constituency MSP is now to ensure that, unlike previous years, meaningful action to prevent flooding is now taken rather than just talked about, and there are examples all over the country of how that can be most effectively and economically achieved.
“For instance, the ‘Dumfries Bund’ is not the answer; it would simply shift the problems elsewhere. We need to look at practical measures to slow down the flow of water from the hills wherever possible.
“It has been achieved in other parts of the country, and it can be achieved here in Dumfries and Galloway.”