Editor's Comment

01.02.16

Weather warning

Source: PSE Feb/Mar 16

This edition of PSE goes to press just as Storm Imogen begins to subside. This latest barrage of winter weather caused yet more disruption to transport and power networks, but thankfully less permanent damage than earlier storms in late 2015 and the beginning of this year. 

The fourth and fifth ‘named storms’ of this season, Desmond and Eva, were responsible for some of the most catastrophic flooding and devastation we have seen for years, with damage estimates for the two storms combined totalling at least £1bn and possibly up to £1.3bn. 

The worst-hit areas were in northern England – especially Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire – and in Scotland. The Environment Agency took some of the blame, and its chair Sir Philip Dilley stepped down after getting fed up of media and political pressure about being expected to be ‘on call’ as the public face of the agency “at short notice throughout the year”. But there was also criticism of some of the duplication and confusion in response to the floods, with so many different authorities, utilities and individuals responsible for different aspects. 

In this edition of PSE, we asked some experts to look at the fallout from the floods and why creating a more resilient society and infrastructure is going to take both innovation and collaboration. I’d urge you to turn to pages 58-61 and consider the arguments for yourself. Those pages also feature lots of photos from the recent floods, as does the front cover of this edition. That particular photo, of the bridge collapse in Tadcaster, is by Joe Giddens of the Press Association. 

Other focuses in this edition include housing, green transport, leadership and the collapse (and possible replacement) of the transatlantic ‘Safe Harbor’ data protection scheme. We also have a special section on digital infrastructure, with contributors including SmarterUK, the Society of Chief Librarians, and the new partnership of Burnley Council with Liberata. 

We also have some analysis of the local government finance settlement, finalised just as PSE was heading to the printers. Expect more comment and insight at our website. 

Finally, I must also tell you that this will be my final Editor’s Comment for PSE. I am to leave the magazine, but am happy to be able to pass the baton to David Stevenson, who takes over from February. Thanks to all the readers and contacts who’ve made it such a fun and interesting job to edit PSE since 2011.

Adam Hewitt

Editor

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