Environment Secretary Owen Patterson proudly announced; ‘We will supply EVERY flood-affected homeowner who wants to sell with high-quality waterproof ‘For Sale’ boards mounted atop mould-resistant plastic poles long enough to be seen above the waters. With this massive input from government we’re confident that we can really be of help to those suffering in the current conditions and that, on the back of this bold new initiative, the offers are just going to flood in. It really is the least we can do.’
A handy, laminated Homeseekers’ Guide is also being made available for anyone who manages to sell up which will help them avoid ‘making the same mistakes again’. Ordnance Survey symbols such as blue wiggly lines, tufty ‘marsh’ symbols, flat expanses of land next to large rivers and those brown things called contours leading to a valley with lots of water running through are no bar to a successful home purchase, the guide suggests, as long as it’s made by someone else.
The booklet gives other handy hints such as avoiding any place names containing the words: mud, marsh, pool(e), puddle, soak(e), ford and flood. Examples of ‘double-whammy’ place names include Mudford (‘mud-ford’, e.g. Somerset) and of course Wetwang. Other indicators of places to avoid include the prefixes ‘Lower’, ‘Under’, ‘New’ and ‘Submerged’.
‘As with all property sales there will be delicate negotiations to be had,’ said Mr Patterson, ‘That’s why Home Insurance providers have been asked to show some sensitivity to prospective buyers enquiring about cover under the initiative, and abstain from using provocative phoneline ‘hold music’, such as whale song, Richard Marx’s ‘Hazard’, or the Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’.
In the final phase of the scheme the government has asked RBS to fund the initiative and so help repopulate the sodden countryside. ‘We wouldn’t want to deter new voters from owning a place of their own,’ added Patterson, with a wink.