CALLS have been made by a York MP for the Government to reduce or abandon 1,700 job cuts planned at the agency responsible for flood protection after recent wet weather caused chaos in parts of the UK.

Environment Agency staff levels are set to fall from 11,400 to 9,700 by October, and York Central MP Hugh Bayley has asked Environment Secretary Owen Paterson whether the fact his department was spending £113 million less this year than it was in 2011 meant the job cuts could be avoided.

Mr Paterson claimed the present Government is spending more on flood protection schemes than any previous administration.

About 500 agency staff are based in Yorkshire offices, including York.

Mr Bayley has tabled further parliamentary questions asking how many staff are under threat at these offices and whether those at risk are involved in frontline flood protection, saying: “The public want real spending on flood defences, not fine words.

"I am very concerned that 1,700 jobs are being cut because this will inevitably have an impact on the ability of the agency to respond to floods - the cost of repairing buildings is hugely greater than savings made by cutting back on the routine maintenance of drains and flood protection schemes.”