Labour leader Keir Starmer hears horror stories from flood affected residents in Doncaster

The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has met with flood affected residents in Doncaster and heard horror stories of battles with insurance companies for payouts and the agonising wait to get back in their homes.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 17th December 2020, 4:45 pm

The party leader visited Bentley which was flooded in November 2019 after the River Don burst its banks following sustained rainfall.

Sir Keir heard that some people over a year on were not back in their homes and that some insurance companies were playing hardball for payouts.

Flanked by constituency MP Ed Miliband and Bentley councillor Jane Nightingale, the Labour leader said Government needed to set up a taskforce on flood preparedness and added it was ‘simply not good enough to wait until after disaster strikes to turn up and pledge support’.

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Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer visits residents and businesses in Bentley, South Yorkshire, who were affected by last year's floods. Meeting Shane Miller owner of Custom Windows and Doors. 16th December 2020. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Speaking on the doorstep, Lorna Ulyett on Frank Road, told Sir Keir she had to live in a caravan in her back garden through the pandemic until recently because the insurance company would not pay out costs that were needed to fix her home.

Nearby business owner Shane Miller said the insurance company tried to low ball her and he started to help them after they came to his worksop in tears. He’s since helped fix and redecorate the home.

“These insurance companies need to change the way they operate,” Lorna told the Labour leader.

“It’s the most expensive piece of paper on the planet and when you need them, they don’t do what they’re supposed to do.

Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer visits residents and businesses in Bentley, South Yorkshire, who were affected by last year's floods. 17th December 2020. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

“It’s dirty tricks with them, they said our house was dry when there was still water in the bricks and they get away with it because they know people don’t understand how they work.”

A pensioner on nearby Chadwick told Sir Keir he had to live in a Travel Lodge for two weeks before being moved to a one-bedroom flat in Scawthorpe and recalled flood water surging through his house and even up through his toilet.

Sir Keir will likely get his chance to become Prime Minister, but the next election is not until 2024 under the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

Asked what he could do in the meantime, he said: “What we can do is come here and talk to people to fully understand what they’ve been through.

Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer visits residents and businesses in Bentley, South Yorkshire, who were affected by last year's floods. Pictured Lorna and Claire Ulyett. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

“I understand their concerns and their challenges first hand, that’s why I want to be here because you can’t read briefings in London and understand what it’s like in Bentley to live through 12 months of agony after the floods.

“Second is to take away the challenges and do something about it and the biggest challenge is not only help people get back into their homes but to give them peace of mind that this isn’t going to happen again. People I’ve spoken to say they’re fed up with it taking so long.

“We need to push the Government to put in a preventative measure, a taskforce to bring people together on this.

“We go through this pretty much every winter now and it’s not acceptable.

Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer visits residents and businesses in Bentley, South Yorkshire, who were affected by last year's floods. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

“We’ve been in this cycle now under this Government of floods, terrible consequences, Government saying they’re going to do something about it and then we come back because it’s happened again.”

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Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer visits residents and businesses in Bentley, South Yorkshire, who were affected by last year's floods. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer visits residents and businesses in Bentley, South Yorkshire, who were affected by last year's floods. Pictured Kev Whinfield. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer visits residents and businesses in Bentley, South Yorkshire, who were affected by last year's floods. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe