Delay leaves households high and dry

MORE than 500 Morpeth homes could be left with no flood insurance if the proposed defence scheme does not go ahead as planned.

The warning was issued at a meeting of Morpeth Town Council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee last week as members voiced their dismay at news that the alleviation scheme would be delayed.

Under a Statement of Principles agreed between the Government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI), flood victims must be able to continue their policies if a flood alleviation scheme is under construction or due to be in place within five years.

If the Morpeth programme is delayed, it is feared the Statement will not apply, leaving hundreds of families and businesses without defences or the security of insurance.

Committee Chairman David Parker said: “The Statement of Principles means that in an area which has been flooded, or is likely to be flooded and is at great risk, people can get insurance provided that an alleviation scheme is definitely going to be in place within five years. That, with this decision, does not apply to Morpeth.

“At least 500 households in this town may not in the next year or two be able to get insurance, let alone be able to get it with high premiums and excesses.

“If we lose the alleviation scheme we have jolly well got to get the insurance issue sorted out because otherwise the implications for this town are quite devastating.

“I know that sounds terrible to say, but it is the reality.”

Coun Parker led a Morpeth working group to investigate possible solutions to flood insurance problems. A model was put forward whereby the cost is spread across all policyholders, regardless of their flood risk, and insurance companies would then pay a proportion of premiums into a central fund, which would be used to pay out for flood-related claims.

After presenting the model at a national conference, Coun Parker was invited to join a working group set up by the Government on the issue and he will travel to London later this month to share Morpeth’s work with its members.

“The work of the Morpeth flood risk insurance group becomes more crucial by the day because of the knock-on effects on insurance of delaying the alleviation scheme,” he said.

“The way the Government working group is moving at least gives us a possible way forward in relation to trying to convince it that our proposal is something it should think about seriously.”

The Morpeth Flood Action Group is asking people to report their experiences of insurance renewals, excesses and premiums as they come up to see if there is any impact from the announcement that the flood alleviation scheme will be delayed.

The group would like to hear from people who haven’t had any problems, as well as those who have, to get a full picture of the situation and it is also seeking information from people who weren’t flooded in 2008 to see if they have noticed any changes.

Residents should contact MFAG Chairman Alan Bell on 07905 564252 or email alanbell14@btinternet.com