‘LAKE DISTRICT TOURISM MUST BE OPEN FOR BUSINESS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE’
Rory Stewart MP for Penrith and The Border, and the Floods Minister, showed Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin around some of the county’s worst-hit infrastructure following the recent devastating flooding, in a day-long visit that took in Braithwaite, the A591 at Thirlmere, Pooley Bridge and Eamont Bridge, with the Secretary of State stopping off along the way to see some of the damage in Keswick also.
As a result, Rory Stewart has stated that: “The Lake District must be open for business as soon as possible, and this means mending and reopening the A591, and fixing Pooley Bridge and Eamont Bridge as quickly as possible. These are crucial links for our communities, our businesses, and of course our tourists, and tourism is the income on which our entire Cumbrian economy depends. I was delighted to be able to show the Secretary of State in person this utterly horrendous damage, and I want to reassure communities that we in government are doing all we possibly can to ensure that the roads and bridges are repaired as quickly as possible.”
Yesterday’s visit follows the Department for Transport’s announcement that it is releasing emergency funding of £40m for the Cumbrian infrastructure projects, in an announcement that has been widely welcomed.
The Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said: “As far as the machinery of government goes, we are here to assist. I’ve got the Chief Executive of Highways England here today with us to look at things and see what can be done. Cumbria County Council has a huge amount of work to do in the rest of the county, so if we can relieve some of the work from them, then we can speed up the recovery process. Nobody could have predicted the seriousness of this. But we need to ensure that any repair works withstand the sorts of natural forces we saw this month. I can’t put a date on it, but certainly I want to see this done as quickly after Easter as possible. We are concerned about flooding all over the country, not just in Cumbria, so we are looking very much at the way in which government can assist and help, and we need to look again at flood defences – are they adequate, why did they fail, and what can we do about this? These things are, of course going to be looked at. We will look at everything.”