Inspections found that more than 3,400 crucial flood defence assets across England were in poor condition last year, according to figures seen by Unearthed. The finding comes as communities across the north grapple with the consequences of flooding, with 53 flood alerts active across England as of Sunday afternoon.

New data, obtained from the Environment Agency (EA) using Freedom of Information rules, shows that 3,460 “high consequence” flood defence assets were rated as being in poor or very poor condition in 2019/20. That’s 6% of all such assets in England, an increase on the previous year after many defences were damaged in last winter’s flooding.

“High consequence” assets are defined by the EA as “flood defence assets that contribute to managing flood risk in a location where the consequence on people and property of an asset failing is high”.

In Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Shropshire, South Yorkshire, the West Midlands, and Worcestershire, which have all had flood alerts in recent days, 831 crucial flood defences were found to be in a poor or very poor condition by inspections last year. That’s 9% of all the assets in these areas – compared to 6% of defences across England as a whole.

In Warrington, where homes were evacuated last week due to flooding, 88 of the Cheshire town’s 339 vital defences – more than a quarter – were found to be in a poor condition last year, making it the local authority with the second-highest number of flood defences in a bad state. South Lakeland, in Cumbria, topped the table, with 95 of its 644 assets – 15% – rated as poor or very poor.

Snow and cold weather is expected across much of England in the coming days, with temperatures forecast to drop as low as -10C in some areas, making life even more difficult for flood-hit communities.

What is the council doing with our money? It is outrageous that they are leaving people to suffer whilst this council spends it on vanity projects that are producing very little in turn. We are in debt to the tune of £1.6 billion and that debt is now on the taxpayers. It is wrong and we need to have our money spend on our defences.