Ryedale's MP today called for an urgent independent inquiry into the cause of the floods which devastated North and East Yorkshire and left hundreds homeless earlier this month.

John Greenway said: "People here have no confidence in the Environment Agency to investigate itself. They have many criticisms on the handling of the flood." He claimed they were angry about the warning system and the information given out in the run-up to the floods.

Mr Greenway's move came immediately after about 400 people attended a meeting in St Peter's Church, Norton, to discuss problems caused by the floods.

Organisers were local farmer Clive Brewer and Norton businessman David Durow, who claim the floods were made worse by lack of tree clearing and other maintenance on the many rivers in the Vale of Pickering.

Mr Brewer said the drainage system had worked efficiently until recent times when dredging and tree clearing had stopped, allowing vegetation to block the channels.

"In my opinion, the floods will continue to occur progressively more often, and in times of less rainfall, unless the original drainage plan is readopted by all the relevant authorities."

The meeting, chaired by County Coun Geoff Rennie, was generally subdued, but often angry, too. Criticism flowed from the floor towards the Environment Agency. In particular, people insisted there had been inadequate warning of the impending disaster.

"There was no warning at my shop and home," said Norton baker Stephen Shaw. "It's quite clear the system is hit and miss."

"Bring back the old sirens," said Coun Vivienne Hughes. "let's have simple solutions by local people."

A key issue to many people was the fact that according to David Durow, who had searched the public records of the Environment Agency, £900,000 a year was allocated each year to Malton and Norton.

Malton town councillor Martin Dales said: "This is a key point. What do they spend this money on.? I will be asking for an immediate public inquiry at tonight's meeting of the town council.

"There are many questions that need answering."

Nobody was available for comment at the Environment Agency today.

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