Michael Fabricant has now received a reply to the letter he wrote to the Prime Minister on the 25th January regarding the Chasewater Dam and its repairs. See Michael’s letter to the Prime Minister at http://www.michael.fabricant.mp.co.uk/news-00921.ihtml
Michael says: "The Prime Minister ignored the central question: namely, if he would lend his support to the sharing of costs of the repairs amongst those councils – and bodies like British Waterways – which would be affected if the dam bursts. Instead, he merely suggests that Lichfield District Council can borrow the money which would have to be repaid, with interest, by local council tax payers over many years to come. It puts a huge and unfair burden on Lichfield and I know that the Council will be disappointed with this response."
A text of the Prime Minister’s letter follows:-
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
29th January 2010
At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday 20 January I said that I would look into the issue you raised with me about the financing of remedial works to the Chasewater Dam. Thank you also for your letter of 26 January about this matter.
I am aware of the responsibilities of the District Council for the Dam, the role of the reservoir in supplying the canal network and the relative risks identified in the engineers’ work. I understand that the engineers have recommended remedial works for the reservoir and that levels have been reduced to allow this work to begin.
While the management of the Dam as a public asset now involves considerable engineering works to ensure its safety in the future, the Government and other relevant agencies will not stand by nor ignore the risks that the current situation holds.
Of course we would not want to determine future management and resourcing of dams in local authority ownership on the basis of this single and particular case, nor should central government unnecessarily interfere in the responsibilities of local government.
In practice the local authority is free, under the prudential system, to borrow for any capital expenditure without Government consent, provided that they are satisfied that they can afford to meet the borrowing costs. We would expect the proposed improvement works to Chasewater Dam to be classified as capital expenditure, and Lichfield Council are free to borrow to fund these works.
I understand that Lichfield District Council have convened a meeting of regional bodies on 12 February to seek assistance with the funding of these works. That meeting will be an important opportunity for all partners to consider what to do about the issues that you and others have raised. Officials from the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will contribute through their representation in the Government Office in the West Midlands.