MP backs Worcester over Somerset

It is beyond dispute that we know a lot about flooding in Somerset. Over the past 7 years a lot of work has been done on flood mitigation. This has not just included experiments with different kinds of dredging. Whole catchment solutions including tree planting and run off from new builds are part of the equation.

The recent issue of phosphate levels on the err Levels, has brought Environmental Protection to the fore. All the Districts of Somerset have now been hit by a block on planning.

In short we have a lot of experience of issues relevant to the environment and its protection. We also have unemployment levels that are increasing. Of course this is happening everywhere. But interestingly the rate of increase in Somerset is higher than the national average.

So it is especially disappointing to hear Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton and Minster announce: “We want to ensure that the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) is located in a place that contributes to the Government’s objectives. Upon considering wider locations, we have decided that Worcester will be an excellent location for the headquarters of the OEP allowing it to have a long term home that will attract the best staff. This is part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that opportunities are spread fairly across the country.

That feels like a real missed opportunity for Somerset. Surely Bridgwater would have made a better location? Taunton would probably have been out of the running. It looks bad for a Minister to recommend something that favours her own constituency. But with all the work on environment protection that has been done in and around Bridgwater it should surely have been considered a strong candidate.

There’ll be a longer report on employment in Somerset in the February edition of The Leveller®.

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