By Dewi Morris | Political Editor
Rhondda Cynon Taf has been a victim of repeated severe flooding earlier this year, after storm Ciara, Dennis and Jorge.
1500 homes and businesses were affected by the flooding with some houses left under 7ft of water.
Rhondda’s Plaid Cymru MS Leanne Wood said:
“A public inquiry would untangle this confusion and get to the heart of what happened and what needs to happen to stand the best chance of preventing it from happening again.”
On Wednesday November 9, the Senedd discussed launching an inquiry after 6000 people signed a petition calling for one.
Conservative MS Janet Finch-Saunders opened the discussion, telling the Senedd that “these are cross party matters that need addressing.”
MS Leanne Wood urged the Senedd to support the inquiry. She reminded members that every MP from the Valleys had supported an inquiry into floods in England earlier this year.
She also reminded the Senedd that Rhondda’s Labour MP Chris Bryant told ITV that an inquiry for Rhondda would be “just about the daftest idea I have heard.” Despite the fact that he had voted for an inquiry in England.
Pontypridd’s Plaid Cymru councillor, Heledd Fychan said:
“A public inquiry… is the best way to ensure that the voices and experiences of victims are heard, to help inform how lives, homes and businesses can be safeguarded in the future.”
On November 25, Fychan put forward a motion to Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, to back a public inquiry. This was voted against which Fychan called “completely hypocritical”.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council leader, Labour councillor Anderw Morgan said:
“a public inquiry would create an unnecessary distraction from the work which is already underway on the ground.”
“A public inquiry would also come at significant expense – money which would be better spent protecting residents and communities against future severe weather events”
Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which issues and manages forecasts, reviewed the flooding, and found that 12 flood warnings were missed and six were issued late.
NRW claims that more investment in warning systems and community support is needed. They also stated that “Householders and individuals also need to take a share of responsibility.”
A report by Pontypridd MS Mick Antoniw and MP Alex Davies-Jones expressed that they are “very concerned that in conjunction with the Covid experience people have had a double whammy of trauma – there really is a need now to assess the mental wellbeing of communities.”
The report recommends the Welsh Government to offer funds for homeowners who cannot afford flood defences such as flood gates. It also recommends recruiting flood ambassadors who would ensure the community is prepared for floods, for example by ensuring a ready supply of sandbags.
£1.6m has been given to the area to fund repair works. However, Plaid Cymru have also called for compensation for those affected.
The inquiry will be considered by the Senedd in the new year.