Holidaying Agency chairman returns from Barbados to visit Yorkshire flood victims

Environment Agency chairman Sir Philip Dilley has visited flood victims in Yorkshire after returning from a much-criticised holiday in the Caribbean.

Wednesday, 30th December 2015, 7:26 pm
Environment Agency chairman Sir Philip Dilley has been criticised following a holiday abroad. (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Sir Philip visited Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd this afternoon after returning from Barbados, according to pictures posted on Twitter.

The Environment Agency tweeted from its @envagency account: “Our chairman’s visited volunteers, wardens & those affected by flooding in #Todmorden, #Hebden Bridge & #Mytholmroyd.”

It received several replies, including one from @posh_tiger, who wrote: “Chairman has a nice tan.”

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Environment Agency chairman Sir Philip Dilley leaves his flat in Marylebone, London, after arriving back in the country following a sunshine holiday in the Caribbean. (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

A second tweet showed him meeting staff “in our #Yorkshire incident room”.

The timing of Sir Philip’s Caribbean break had been criticised, although the EA pointed out he had visited flood victims in Cumbria earlier this month.

An agency spokesman said Sir Philip had been in “regular contact” with the organisation regarding its response to the current situation.

Earlier he spoke briefly to reporters outside his flat in Marylebone in London saying he would be “very happy to speak” with people when he got to affected areas.

Emerging from his flat in an Edwardian mansion block in Marylebone some 50 minutes later to begin his journey north, Sir Philip, who reportedly earns around £100,000 a year, said the quango has been “very effective” in handling the flooding crisis.

Asked if he should have visited the worst affected areas sooner, Sir Philip said: “Well, I’m going up there today, as you appreciate.

“My focus really is to go and see what’s happening, to see the good work that’s been going on, but most importantly to see the communities who have been affected.”

Sir Philip, who was noticeably tanned, said he had been “in very close contact” with senior EA staff throughout his break.

Responding to questions about his whereabouts during the floods, he said: “Everybody can’t be everywhere at the same time. I think we’ve been very effective and efficient in what we’ve been doing. There’s obviously some lessons to learn.”

Sir Philip’s predecessor as EA chairman, Lord Chris Smith, faced severe criticism during flooding when he was accused of failing to visit flood-hit Somerset soon enough.