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Minister plans to visit flood town

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A town devastated by the weekend's heavy rainfall and flooding is to receive a visit from the floods recovery minister, John Healey.

Mr Healey will see for himself what damage has been done and will meet officials involved in the rescue effort and clean-up in Morpeth, Northumberland.

The River Wansbeck burst its banks, causing the worst flooding since the 1960s, with more than 400 people evacuated from their homes.

An RAF helicopter was called in to help carry several stranded residents to safety as the town was "virtually cut off".

The minister is set to announce that the Government will operate the Bellwin scheme, which provides emergency financial assistance to local authorities to meet the costs of an emergency or disaster.

Mr Healey will also meet local residents to discuss the help available for homes and businesses that have been devastated by the flooding, a spokesman said.

The Prime Minister has asked Mr Healey to report back to him following the visit.

Later in the week the minister will meet insurance industry chiefs to discuss plans for dealing with the large number of home insurance claims in affected areas.

© The Press Association 2008