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The Feckless (rich) scroungers of the flooded Somerset Levels

Tom Winnifrith Wednesday 29 January 2014

 

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20 miles down the road from me vast tracts of land are underwater. Flanked by the local MPs (a double barrelled Tory upper class twit nonentity and a beardy weirdie Lib Dem wearing wellies over his sandals), minister Owen Patterson visited this week. Yup, shake down the money tree the feckless rich are to be bailed out with your cash.

I am hard on those on welfare who talk of rights without taking any sense of personal responsibility. No-one dares level the same charge against the feckless rich of Somerset but here I go.

The odd household of the 500 or so cut off by water or flooded comprises born and bred locals who have been happily married to their cousin, sister or aunt for years. The vast majority are incomers who have bought privately, often paying an arm and a leg. This is not a place just anyone can afford to live in. 

When they bought they were fully aware that once in fifty or a hundred years they would get flooded. But flooding is like tossing a coin. Your two floods in 50 years could come 50 years apart or (as is the case today) in consecutive years. That is the way of nature and the folks knew it when buying.

Would I like a lovely farmhouse next to a fish filled river on the Levels? Yes I would love it. But I would want to pay a stack less than I would for an equivalent property in the hills where I know that I will not be swimming in sewerage once every few decades. In other works you pay for what you get.

The folks on the levels might have bought in relatively cheaply because they took this into account. Or they might simply have overpaid. But it was THEIR call. Now they are demanding that the rest of Britain spends millions on dredging (unproven) and on installing mammoth new pumping systems so that when the next floods come (whether that be 2015 or 2065) they will not be affected. This will naturally make their properties worth more.

If the folks ignored the flood risks and overpaid they are feckless spongers if they now expect the rest of us to bail them out and add to the value of their homes. If they got in at a discount price accepting flood risk and now demand we bail them out so increasing the value of their homes they are also scroungers. 

These folks need to accept that they must take financial responsibility for their own decisions and not get bailed out by the rest of us. The fact that the posh folk of the Levels would be the first to condemn the residents of Benefits Street  - who also talk of "rights" without accepting personal responsibility for their own actions and decisions - makes me feel even less sympathy for them now.

The taxpayer has an obligation to open up roads by draining off water. After that the folks of the Levels have got to live with the consequences of their own economic choices and if that means going to stay with granny in Taunton until the waters subside so be it.

The hard pressed taxpayer has no obligation or responsibility to bail them out.

Of course no politician will dare say that. All three parties still believe in the Money Tree.’

 

 

 

About Tom Winnifrith
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Tom Winnifrith is the editor of TomWinnifrith.com. When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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