Councillors in Rhondda Cynon Taf have voted against Plaid Cymru’s calls for an independent inquiry into flooding this year.
Responding to a motion put forward by Plaid Cymru councillors, the Labour group tabled an amendment which Plaid said completely changed the meaning of the original motion removing support for an inquiry and removing reference to the fact that no report was currently addressing the impact on the mental and physical health of residents, nor the lasting economic and social impact.
They also said that a report published by Pontypridd MS Mick Antoniw and the MP Alex Davies Jones, did not mention an independent inquiry nor any commitment for further scrutiny over what went wrong and why – which Plaid said was at odds with the Labour Party’s support for an independent review into the floods in England, which they said was supported by all Welsh Labour MPs who represent constituencies in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Speaking in response to the report, and the council vote, Councillor Heledd Fychan who represents Pontypridd Town said: “This is a whitewash by Labour and completely hypocritical, as they attempt to stop a much-needed independent inquiry.
“The report provides no answers for those whose lives were devastated by the floods, nor any assurances that their homes and businesses will be safe in the future.
“We must have an independent review, as a matter of urgency, to understand what went wrong and why, learn lessons for the future and secure investment for flood defences and secure greater support for residents and businesses affected, or who are at risk of future flooding.
“Lives have been shattered, and those affected deserve to have their voices and experiences heard. They also deserve far greater support than is currently being offered.”
But Councillor Andrew Morgan, leader of RCT Council said the amendment tabled sought to ensure a practical approach was adopted to address residents’ concerns following the severe flooding experienced earlier this year.
He said: “For me, a public inquiry would create an unnecessary distraction from the work which is already underway on the ground to repair the damage caused to infrastructure by Storm Dennis and to improve flood resilience in the future.
“Actions speak louder than words and work has already been completed or is underway on a number of important schemes, and the council’s own internal review processes will report to cabinet before Christmas.
“This work includes the development of a number of significant flood alleviation schemes which will be completed over the next two years; these two years of practical action on the ground, which will deliver tangible real-life benefits for residents, could be lost to a public inquiry process, which is why Labour members did not support the inquiry call.
“ A public inquiry would also come at significant expense – money which would be better spent protecting residents and communities against future severe weather events and responding to the future challenges of climate change.
“In response to the motion, I will be formally writing on behalf of the council to the First Minister to update on the progress being made and to ask the Welsh Government to consider what may be done differently to further improve the partnerships, planning and the future response of all public agencies in Wales.”
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On December 9, the Senedd will be debating whether there should be an independent inquiry after a petition set up by Cllr Fychan reached 6,000 signatures with the testimony of people and businesses affected in their own words.
Plaid Cymru councillors are asking residents to help their campaign to secure an independent inquiry by emailing members of the Senedd and tagging them in social media posts, asking them to vote in favour of an independent inquiry using the hashtags #JusticeForFloodVictims #RCT.
They have also launched another petition to support an independent inquiry which can be found at https://www.pontypridd-plaid.wales/flood_petition.