A GOVERNMENT minister was in Winchester today to discuss options to battle future floods.

Greg Barker met with representatives from Hampshire County Council, Winchester City Council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue and the Environment Agency to talk about the problems the city faced in January and what measures will be taken in the future to prevent them.

Councillors and officers walked with Mr Barker from the Guildhall to Water Lane, where some sandbags still lay, to Durngate Terrace and to Park Avenue.

Mr Barker was shown images of the seventy foot barrier erected there at the Winchester School of Art to hold back the water after the river burst its banks in early February.

Mike O’Neill, operations manager for the Environment Agency, said: “This meeting today has been used to brief the minister on the action that was taken by the county council, city council, emergency services and the Environment Agency, to reduce the flooding risk to Winchester. There were few flooded properties in Winchester because of the plans put in place in advance.”

Government Minister Greg Barker said: “It’s clear there was a great response by the community that avoided what could have been a disaster. The reason so many [houses] were safe was because of the actions of so many. I’m here to look at what’s needed to go back to the Prime Minister but I’m also going to look at what investment is required. This is an important priority for the Prime Minister.

“We are absolutely on it and we’re working hand in glove with Steve Brine, who has been fantastic right the way through the flooding crisis, and ensure that Winchester gets the support it needs.”

Steve Brine, MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford, said: “In February it was all about dealing with the crisis and we have plans but I wanted to bring the Minister here so he could take the lessons back to the government. My message to the Minister is Winchester learned the lessons in 2000 that, this time, without question, saved dozens of houses from flooding. But there are still infrastructure issues that I want to be raised.”