UK flood chief is under fire over two-week Barbados holiday

UK flood chief is under fire over criticism of two-week Barbados holiday despite defending himself on his arrival to Britain ‘at the appropriate time’

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

An aerial photograph of the flooded city centre of York in northern England on December 27, 2015, released by the National Police Air Service, NPAS Carr Gate, on December 27, 2015 and recieved on December 29, 2015

As much of northern Britain braced itself for further flooding on Wednesday, the chief of the country's Environment Agency came under fire after it emerged he had spent the last two weeks in Barbados.

Philip Dilley, 60, was set to meet with flood victims on Wednesday shortly after returning to Britain, saying that he had arrived "at the appropriate time".

The agency and the government have been criticised after thousands were forced to leave their homes during an unusually wet December, with officials blamed for failing to build adequate flood defences.

The agency has been also accused of misleading the public after releasing a statement saying that Dilley, a former business adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, was "at home with his family" during floods that hit a day after Christmas.

A tanned Dilley spoke to reporters as he arrived at his London flat on Wednesday, saying he would be "very happy to speak" with those affected.

Former engineer Dilley defended the agency's response, saying "we've been very effective and efficient in what we've been doing."

"Everybody can't be everywhere at the same time," he said of his whereabouts during the most recent wave of flooding, which struck northern England over the Christmas holidays.

"I am lucky enough to have two homes so I travel between the two," he added.

Dilley earns a reported £100,000 ($148,000, 135,000 euros) a year in his role of agency chairman, a part-time position that requires him to work two to three days a week.

Britain's newspapers on Wednesday carried photographs of what is believed to be his gated mansion in the Caribbean, which boasts a swimming pool and palm tree-filled grounds.

Severe weather warnings were in place across Northern Ireland, northern England and Scotland on Wednesday as Storm Frank barrelled in, threatening more misery for towns and villages already hit by Storms Eva and Desmond in recent weeks.

One of the warnings was for the Yorkshire town of Tadcaster, where residents were advised to evacuate on Tuesday after an 18th-century bridge collapsed into the swollen waters of the River Wharfe.