Talking Politics: We must learn lessons from latest floods

Water fall: The clear-up after flooding at Walsden
Water fall: The clear-up after flooding at Walsden

Locally, we’ve had another serious episode of flooding in the Upper Valley and, nationally, another child has been killed by his parents.

Each time there are events on this scale, there are meetings and reviews, and people talk about “learning lessons”. We must ask ourselves whether that works: what most people want is for the situation to be dealt with effectively and sensitively and not happen again!

The flooding in Todmorden seems to have been another cloud burst (perhaps similar to that over Wadsworth Moor/Nutclough in Hebden Bridge last year). My husband rang me (I was at a meeting in Hebden Bridge) to tell me about the amount of water going down our track and the speed of it (but it was all over fairly quickly).

I saw the level of water at Callis Bridge and had to drive through a flood on the A646 to get home. By the time I reached Todmorden, it had gone.

The worst of the damage was at a small area in Walsden which has become the focus of activity for the agencies with highways officers trying to work out what to do to reinstate the road - community staff helping people cope with the aftermath. Going around the area again (as I do anyway as a local councillor), people describe their fear and anger at the experience on the receiving end of so much rain, and ask for help and advice. First, in how to sort things out after they’ve done the immediate work of mopping up and moving rubble. At the same time, they want reassurance that if it happens again immediately, the same damage won’t be inflicted on them. Fortunately, nobody has been injured or died in the flooding here either this year or last.

Two days later, we hear the terrible news about how four-year-old Daniel died in the West Midlands.

There was an immediate reference to a “serious case review” which collects and analyses detailed information about what happened and draws conclusions from it. Previous deaths of children, like Baby P, have led to major changes in systems. We don’t yet know the background circumstances that led to Daniel’s suffering and why it was apparently not picked up, but it does feel alarmingly like history repeating itself and the system not swinging into action to protect him.

As a local councillor (and a social worker), I do feel a sense of responsibility to keep abreast of what’s happening, to find out what people’s views are and to do my best to represent them. As a Liberal Democrat, my values are about caring for people and balancing the needs of local people with community interests.

Protecting people from these awful events has to be part of that – and doing my bit to make sure that lessons are learned. We must ask ourselves if it’s inevitable that history will repeat itself. I hope not.