'Are public services and private utilities resourced for climate change?'

A tree fallen on parked vehicles at Kenwood

A tree fell on parked cars in Kenwood - Credit: Linda Grove

Over the past few weeks, Dudley, Eunice, Franklin and their siblings gave the UK a terrible battering.

What used to be isolated, once-in-a-decade events, are now arriving in clusters, happening more often with greater intensity and more destructive power.

Whether the reason is global warming or long-term climatic change, they have become the norm for Europe.

Their terrible impact was felt close to home with the tragic death of a young woman as a tree collapsed on Muswell Hill Road.

It was one of many trees that fell: to its credit, Haringey was praised on social media for a quick response to a collapse on Priory Road although others trying to ring their helpline couldn’t get through.

Across the country businesses and schools were closed; churches, homes and public buildings were damaged; hospitals suspended admissions; road, rail, underground and (unforgettably) air services were disrupted. The O2 Arena lost its roof and cancelled concerts.

David Winskill is concerned about the impact the NHS accelerated discharge system will have on the vulnerable.

David Winskill queries Haringey's readiness for future storms - Credit: Archant

Tens of thousands lost electric power – some for days. The overall economic impact will be immeasurable.

Most Read

As I write, much of the north of England is underwater as swollen rivers burst their banks. A pal in Yorkshire tells me that insurance cover is now either unobtainable or too exorbitant to carry.

Worryingly, a London Councils’ report has warned of the danger of flash floods to those with basement properties. North and east London, with its acres of non-porous surfaces and inadequate surface water drains, was singled out for special mention.

As ever, public services workers responded brilliantly, but the inevitability and impact of these and future events will be significant.

We should be asking whether our public services and private utilities are properly resourced to respond and start demanding appropriate legislation and significant and mandatory capital investment in neglected and tired out infrastructures to make them fit for the challenges of the next hundred years.

As importantly, we need to reinvigorate all our public services which are on their knees after a decade of austerity, the battering from Covid and with scarcely the band width to provide statutory services.

We need a coherent national plan, not inane boosterism.

David Winskill is a local campaigner for Crouch End.