I am sure that you, like me, spent a lot of Christmas responding to enquiries from concerned friends and relatives around the country checking to see if you and your loved ones were OK after all the news coverage of flooding in Cumbria.

I was lucky enough to be able to tell them that, with the exception of writing off my rather old Volvo after driving into a bit of the River Bela that surprised me by being in a place where there was normally a road, we were all fine. For many others that is sadly not the case.

The media may have moved on from covering the effects of the floods; it was amazing how fast they forgot about Cumbria when the floods struck in Yorkshire, but for many people the effects are still being felt. It will take months for many houses to dry out and for insurance claims to be settled.

Importantly we are still not sure when the A591 will be open again between Grasmere and Keswick and that is the major road priority in the county.

As you drive around you cannot help but see damage to lots of roads around the county. Cumbria County Council will be repairing potholes for months to come.

I am doing all I can to press the government to move to address these issues as quickly as possible and to find the money we need to get all the work done.

We have seen the temporary road open up by Thirlmere to get school children and any others who need to travel between Grasmere and Keswick through but this is really only a sticking plaster.

The A591 is a major thoroughfare for tourists and businesses in the Lakes. Its closure will have a very bad effect on the income of the county if it is not re-opened very soon.

Which brings me back to my initial point.

I am really worried that the news coverage will have a serious effect on our visitor numbers this year with the consequences being felt on the incomes that people earn in tourism and related businesses.

Already I have been told of bookings being cancelled and enquiries being down.

We must all play a part in ensuring that Cumbria comes out of Storm Desmond with as little long-term damage as possible. Please encourage anyone you know who is thinking about visiting the Lakes to get their trip booked in.

If you are out shopping please think about using local shops as much as possible; they have fewer resources to keep them going during difficult times than the national chains and more of the money they take stays in the area.

Why not have a day trip into the Lakes yourselves if y

ou don’t live in the national park itself? Visit one of our great cafes for a bite to eat – do anything you can to keep our economy buoyant. We all need to play a part in getting through this period.