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One childhood memory that has stayed with me after all these years is the flooding which affected Surrey and North West Sussex in September 1968. My family lived in Dorking at the time, and I can vividly remember the sight of water lapping at the front door of my sister’s schoolfriend’s home, who lived just down the road from us. Fortunately, our house was a few feet higher up and we were spared.
Today, I have hit the milestone of being a homeowner for exactly half life. I have lived in four houses in total, and on each occasion, before making an offer on a property, my thoughts have gone back to September 1968, and I have taken a good look at the lie of the land to ensure as best I can that in the event of torrential downpours, the rain has somewhere else to go rather than lapping against my front door. Cycling round the immediate area is a useful strategy here, as it one of the best ways of detecting those small ups and down which can make all the difference to rainfall dispersion.
So far, my plan has worked, and in the 27 years 2 months and 4 days since moving into my first home in Eastbourne, I have never suffered any flood damage. However, environment Secretary Caroline Spelman appears set on rewarding my circumspection by asking me and thousands of others who have chosen to avoid houses on flood plains to shell out in support of those who were not so wise by paying a levy on our house insurance premium.
My sympathies go out to those who, like my sister’s schoolfriend’s family in 1968, have recently suffered water incursion into their homes, but things have moved on since then. You don’t even need a bicycle or a detailed house survey to find out if your property is in a flood-prone area. All you need to do is go onto the Environment Agency’s website at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31650.aspx/ and type in your postcode. Insurance companies are certainly aware of where the flood-prone areas are. During the 20 years I worked in the insurance industry, the rating process became a lot more sophisticated, both for motor and household policies, to ensure that a more appropriate premium was charged for the risk concerned. That’s how insurance works. If you don’t want to live in a flood prone area and pay high household premiums, you don’t have to, just as you don’t have to buy a Porsche if you don’t want to pay a high motor insurance premium. .
And herein lies the objection to Mrs Spelman’s proposal. If the more prudent are asked to subsidise high risk, it makes a mockery of the whole insurance industry. It’s none of the State’s business. The EU have already stuck their filthy noses in by denying insurance companies the right to use gender as a rating factor for motor policies. One would have expected better of a Conservative minister – especially one who is meant to be a Christian. What next? Will I with my little Renault Clio be asked to pay a levy to subsidise 17-year old Porsche drivers?
John Petley is editor of Freedom Today.
- Freedom in the City on 22nd May with JP Floru on May 22, 2013 12:30 pm
- The Freedom Association’s Magna Carta Pimms and Politics Cruise on June 15, 2013 12:30 pm
- Conservative Renewal Conference on September 14, 2013
- The Freedom Zone on September 30, 2013
- The Freedom Zone on October 1, 2013
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