rory_stormdesmondRory Stewart, Floods Minister and MP for one of the areas worst hit by Storm Desmond’s torrential floods, will welcome the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, to Penrith and The Border tomorrow morning, Monday 28th December, for a tour of the worst affected roads and bridges.

The visit will coincide with a formal announcement confirming the release by central government of a funding package worth £40m for repairs to flood-damaged roads and bridges. Work to mend the A591 and investigate restoring Pooley Bridge and Eamont Bridge is due to begin in the new year; the Floods Minister will tomorrow discuss with the Secretary of State giving responsibility for these infrastructure projects to Highways England.

Rory Stewart, who has spent the Christmas period helping to coordinate prevention efforts across Cumbria ahead of Storm Eva – which saw huge amounts of rainfall over Christmas and Boxing Day – has welcomed the news, which will impact on many of his affected constituents: “It is vital that we get our bridges and the A591 up and running as quickly as possible, but not at the risk to people’s safety. Yet these roads and bridges are crucial links in our network. That is why we desperately need this emergency investment from government, which acknowledges that these are exceptional circumstances. I am delighted that I will be showing the Secretary of State for Transport around some of the most badly affected areas in Cumbria tomorrow, and I encourage locals to please come and see us. We will be visiting the A591 at 1230pm, Pooley Bridge at 1445pm and Eamont Bridge at 1530pm.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the local transport system was “the lifeblood” of the region. “We are determined to help families and businesses in Cumbria and Lancashire get back on their feet as soon as possible.”

The government has been supporting the efforts of the local authorities ever since the extreme weather hit, as they have begun repairing the region’s transport network. This important announcement builds on the government’s provision of up to £2 million in the initial aftermath of the severe wet weather to enable Cumbria and Lancashire authorities to carry out an initial assessment of what repairs were required to roads and bridges. The Department for Transport will continue to work closely with the local authorities in Cumbria and Lancashire in recovery efforts.

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