Everyone should chip in to flood plan

ALL Morpeth residents should contribute to a flood insurance scheme which would help prevent the danger of community blight, according to town councillors.

A working group recently came up with a new proposal for a way forward on the issue at national level that expanded on its original model.

The revised plan from members of the Morpeth Flood Action Group (MFAG), Morpeth Town Council and the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade involves a pool of money paid into by high-risk householders, but to enable people to afford insurance in these areas they will only pay a percentage of the premium that they would be responsible for if there were no subsidy measures.

This means that the main contributions are shared between the industry and people living in areas most likely to flood, however the pool would also have funding from a Community Flood Levy paid by all householders.

At a full council meeting, the local authority unanimously endorsed the proposal and Coun David Parker, a member of the working group, said it was important that an agreement is reached soon because the Statement of Principles – agreed by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) with the Government to ensure cover continues to be provided for flood risk properties – will end in 2013.

“The revisions to our proposal were made to accommodate some of the issues raised by the ABI, but the principle of a pooling system as the best way forward remains in place,” he added.

“We’re asking that everyone in the town chips in to help people in high risk areas to afford flood insurance. This is because if there are 500 homes in the town centre which are empty as a result of insurance premiums being too high, it would blight the lives of all Morpeth residents.

“The Government needs to take some responsibility for this, certainly in terms of setting the framework, and it will give its views on the matter in the spring.”

Under the Morpeth model, the insurance industry as a whole would decide whether the levy would be charged across the board as a flat rate or as a percentage of the complete household insurance premium.

North ward councillor Nic Best said he hoped that the proposal would become national policy, but if not it should at the very least be included in Northumberland County Council’s Local Development Framework.