Michael Fabricant raised the urgent matter of the leaking dam which holds back the waters of the Chasewater Reservoir today with the Prime Minister in the House of Commons. For questions like this, it is common to brief Number Ten in advance, so at least the PM knows that an MP is not raising a partisan political matter, but is looking for a helpful reply. But rather than get a concerned answer, Fabricant received a brief and 'insensitive and flip' response despite Gordon Brown being briefed fully in advance that the leak endangers life and could have a lasting effect on the whole of the Midlands. Lichfield District Council officials have told Michael Fabricant that unless the dam is repaired soon, it could have "catastrophic consequences" with loss of life and property and the Midlands canal system running dry.
Michael Fabricant: The 200 year old earthworks dam in my constituency which contains the Chasewater reservoir has started to leak. A recent engineers report stated that if it collapses, scores of lives will be lost and there will be a lasting effect in the midlands. The small district of Lichfield does not have the funds to make the urgent repairs. Will the Prime Minister please use his best endeavours to ensure that the financial burden is spread over the region as a whole?"And that was it.
The Prime Minister: Of course I will be happy to consider his point although I see that he is making the case for public expenditure.
Michael Fabricant tells me: "This is one of the briefest, crass, insensitive and flip replies that I have ever heard from a Prime Minister to such a serious question. I spoke to his office the previous day so they were fully briefed in advance. Whatever I might think of Tony Blair, he always tried to give detailed and helpful replies to constituency problems especially if he had been briefed and no party political points were being made. I did not make a party-political point and I did brief in advance. Gordon Brown's reply was just plain crass. I will, however, now be writing to the Prime Minister regarding these matters and hope the substantial cost of urgent repairs to the dam won't all have to be born by the 40,000 householders in Lichfield District. I am also seeking further information from the Council regarding the dam's immediate safety."
Gordon Brown had better hope that the dam remains intact, don't you think?