Flood group ‘would be worthy of national award win’

Then flooding minister Richard Benyon, centre, is pictured during a visit to Morpeth in 2012 to see for himself the flooded areas in 2008 and plans for the flood alleviation scheme. Also pictured are Ian Hodge, left, from the Environment Agency and Alan Bell, chairman of the Morpeth Flood Action Group.
Then flooding minister Richard Benyon, centre, is pictured during a visit to Morpeth in 2012 to see for himself the flooded areas in 2008 and plans for the flood alleviation scheme. Also pictured are Ian Hodge, left, from the Environment Agency and Alan Bell, chairman of the Morpeth Flood Action Group.

The vital work and campaigning by the Morpeth Flood Action Group (MFAG) has been put forward for a national accolade.

It has been nominated by Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery for a Local Heroes award.

Entries are now being taken from across the country by the Flood Re scheme, which was set up by the Government and the insurance industry to deliver new ways of offering home owners affordable insurance even when their properties are considered at risk of flooding.

Initially, the group was at the forefront of the town’s recovery from the September 2008 floods when more than 1,000 residential and business properties were damaged.

Members then campaigned to save the Morpeth Flood Alleviation Scheme when it was in danger of not going ahead and for fairer flood insurance, with a working group set-up involving other organisations in the town.

According to its own promotional literature, the awards will recognise groups or individuals that have been a pillar of strength for flood action in their communities; helped out in the toughest times of flooding and made a difference to leading the calls for better flood protection for ‘at risk’ properties in their own towns, cities or villages.

“MFAG ticks all these boxes and would be the most worthy winner of a Local Hero award,” said Mr Lavery.

“What its members have done over the past decade has been beyond praise and truly exemplifies the best of a community standing up for itself and those in need.

“I know those behind the group did not do what they did to win an award such as this, but it would be rightful national recognition of the efforts put in to get Morpeth back on its feet after the 2008 floods and to ensure the town got the protection it deserved so that such a devastating experience won’t happen again.

“The group has already won a Morpeth Town Council Civic Award in 2014 and even the then flooding minister Richard Benyon praised what he called its ‘inspirational leadership’ when he visited the town to see for himself the flooded areas and plans for the flood alleviation scheme.”

Winning the award would not only see the group crowned a Flood Re Local Hero and the national recognition that would bring with it, but would also secure £10,000 to be spent for the benefit of the community of Morpeth.

Entries close on September 18, and Mr Lavery is appealing for Morpeth residents to personally put forward the group to support his own nomination.

Shortlisted nominees will be notified by October 6, and invited to a national awards presentation ceremony.

Anyone wanting to nominate MFAG can do so by clicking this website – www.floodre.co.uk/localheroes
Members of the group worked with Morpeth Town Council and the Chamber of Trade on a campaign to secure a new system to make insurance premiums more affordable for people living in flood-risk areas.

And since Flood Re has been implemented, they have surveyed householders to see if there are still issues that need to be raised with relevant bodies.