THE leader of Hampshire County Council has written to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Local Government to invite them to see the problems caused by flooding in Hampshire.

Commenting at a meeting of the full County Council on February 20, Councillor Roy Perry said he was pleased that Hampshire County Council had been congratulated in Parliament by Ministers for the effective and cooperative way that problems were being tackled.

He also said that he wanted Prime Minister, David Cameron, and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to come to Hampshire to see firsthand how the county is coping.

County Councillors paid tribute to the people of Hampshire who turned up to help their neighbours in around 100 communities affected by the repeated high winds, local flooding and unprecedented rainfall.

Cllr Perry said: “When the weather calms down, we will find an appropriate way to express our thanks to all who have helped. They have been saviours and saints.”

The leader of Hampshire County Council led tributes to staff for their work, day and night, to keep Hampshire moving and help people protect their properties.

He added: "Not only have our Highways, Environment and Emergency Planning staff been involved as front line responders, but all departments, from Children's Services springing into action to arrange temporary accommodation for St Bede School in Winchester, to Adult Services being on hand with help when people in Basingstoke were flooded out.

"I pay tribute to our ACSOs who have been deployed in Hambledon, but also to the staff of our contractors Amey who have given great support and responded to our requests for additional resources, and also the officers and staff of the district councils, the emergency services, Environment Agency, utility companies, and the military.”

According to Cllr Perry, 70,000 sandbags have been distributed around the county so far, adding: “Members will no doubt be familiar with the problems related to the River Itchen at Winchester and River Test in Romsey, and other problem areas such as Buckskin in Basingstoke, and the winterbournes in Test Valley and Basingstoke. Highways have been the main source of sandbags through their highway contractor Amey, and sandbag production has been helped enormously by the military. Our depot at Micheldever, in co-operation with the military, became the strategic supply source for the emergency response."

He also said there are lessons to be learned, and as the Lead Local Flood Authority, the Council had already instituted an independent investigation into the New Year flooding in Romsey.

Cllr Perry added: “Highways have been working with Emergency Planning colleagues, participating and contributing fully to the multi-agency response to flooding issues across the whole of Hampshire, and they will take a leading role when the multi-agency work enters the recovery phase.

"Rainfall has caused groundwater levels and rivers to rise rapidly over recent weeks and a number of areas have been subject to flooding or repeated flood, which will continue to be monitored by the County Council so that we are able to respond rapidly to ensure highways, particularly main roads and other roads to critical infrastructure, remain open where possible."

In addition, the leader has also called for meetings with the bosses of the utility companies to discuss ideas to make Hampshire more resilient to these sorts of events in the future.