HOMEOWNERS suffering from flooding in Gloucestershire were visited by Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday as more rain is forecast for the county this week.
Mr Cameron stopped off at the Queens Head, in Longford, to meet residents and Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson, before making his way to the Gloucestershire TriService Emergency Centre, at Waterwells, Quedgeley.
Mr Cameron told the Echo: "My heart goes out to those who have been affected.
"It has caused a lot of tragedy and heartbreak.
"We have been investing a lot of money into the flood defences than ever before.
"We have spent £2.4billion in the current four-year period on flood defences.
"We have seen a massive improvement in the defences.
"Homes in Tewkesbury this time round have been better."
He also went on to say that he noticed 'bravery and courage' from residents.
When asked if he would plan a holiday in the South West this year, he replied that he would take a trip down in the summer with his family and Tewkesbury Abbey was a favourite.
Mr Cameron also announced further support for businesses in areas affected by flooding yesterday.
The new Business Support Scheme worth up to £10million will provide hardship funding for small and medium-sized businesses in areas affected by the floods.
Extra time will also be given for businesses to file accounts without any penalties.
A Government Business Support Helpline will be set up to provide comprehensive advice and support to businesses affected by floods.
Mr Cameron said: "We are learning from these important lessons and we have signed up to more scheme to see if more can be done."
Mr Robertson said he talked to the Prime Minister about how it is important to avoid building in flood risk areas – or even land close to such areas.
"The Prime Minister said that he would write to me to set out the flexibility which councils have on this issue," said Mr Robertson.
"We also spoke about dredging and de-silting and the Prime Minister was very sympathetic to the idea.
"He feels that the Environment Agency should now respond appropriately to such requests from local communities.
"The meetings I had with the Prime Minister were very useful and constructive.
"He was very concerned about the situation we find ourselves in and took on board what we said about house building and the Environment Agency.
"I look forward to following up on these matters with him over the next few days and weeks."
Phil Haynes, silver command for Gloucestershire police, said: "It is good that David Cameron saw for himself rather than read reports and he can see the affect it has been on Tewkesbury.
"He noticed how all the different agencies are working together.
"He spoke to us during a meeting about the key issues and a the new scheme.
"The key thing for him was that we are all working together."
Mr Cameron's visit came as Gloucestershire County Council allocated £50,000 for flood victims in the county.
It is putting the money into a relief grant fund to help people whose homes have been hit by flooding.
It is offering up to £1,000 per flooded property to help replace damaged furniture and essentials or to help with the most immediate needs.
Councillor Vernon Smith (C, Tewkesbury East), cabinet member for highways and flood, said: "We're doing as much as we can out on the ground to help people who are affected by the flooding but we know there are people whose homes or properties have been damaged.
"That's why we are committing up to £50,000 to help people in the community respond to issues relating to flooding in their properties in their recent event.
"This is reinforcing our ongoing commitment to flood alleviation and supporting flood victims since 2007."
Anyone wanting to apply for the funding should visit gloucestershire.gov.uk/floodfund in the first instance and register their details.
The council will then be in contact to discuss the application.
Officials at Shire Hall said the council had spent over £45 million on flood alleviation work since 2007.