A GOVERNMENT minister has visited Hampshire to see first-hand some of the damage left by the wettest winter for 250 years.

Greg Barker is one of a team of ministerial special flood envoys established to report back to the Prime Minister on the winter floods.

Councillor Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council, made the minister aware of the huge multi-agency response and recovery efforts made in the worst affected areas.

He discussed the council’s commitment to repair the damage to the county’s highways and bids for Government funding to invest in mitigation measures to reduce the impact of flooding in the future.

Many areas of Hampshire were affected by this winter’s flooding, with heavy rainfall resulting in high groundwater levels flooding properties in the Buckskin area of Basingstoke and other areas.

Over 300 homes were flooded in Hampshire, and around 100 households evacuated.

Extra staff were brought in to ensure the majority of the highway network was safe and open.

Over 1,000 fallen trees were cleared and around 70,000 sandbags were deployed on the roads and river banks alone. Innovative engineering measures solutions were implemented to keep roads open.

The longer term costs to repair damaged roads and to build mitigation measures against the effects of future flooding in Hampshire have been estimated at around £63million.

The cost of the emergency response, including sandbags, tree clearing and clean up, adds up to a further £5m.

Cllr Perry said: “I very much welcomed this opportunity to further discuss our flooding response and recovery work with the Prime Minister’s special flood envoy.

“While we continue to clear up and repair the damage done, we’ll be pressing the case for funding and resources for Hampshire to ensure we and our partners like the Environment Agency and district councils can keep people, property and highways as safe as we can.

“We’ve already submitted 33 bids for funding for individual flood mitigation schemes.

“Government has given us £11.5m for road repairs as a helpful first step, and we’ll be bidding further, given the estimated £25m needed.”

He added: “We’ll be making clear our commitment to investing in Hampshire by continuing to fund an enhanced maintenance programme to improve the resilience of our 5,000 miles of road, and putting local capital funding forward to support grant bids for flood defence work.”