GREATER priority must be given to flood control, said Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, during a brief visit to Upton last Friday morning.

"There are more things we can do than putting sand bags at the front door," he said, as he surveyed flooded New Street.

"We can't stop the rain coming down but we can take some very long term views."

Upton resident Betty Williams, a former district council chairman, told Mr Prescott of the controversy surrounding the Fish Meadow flood bund, built on the east side of the River Severn to protect agricultural land.

"It throws the flood back into the town because the water has to go somewhere," she said.

Mr Prescott said the flood bunds were built at a time when the priority was agriculture, but now that floods were more frequent it was time to look at the problem again.

"Our rivers can't be built with 20ft banks but we should manage the flood plains more effectively and we shouldn't be putting houses on them.

"We could make a better fist of it by designing our infrastructure better," he said.

Attention should be given to the design of buildings already in the flood plain, to minimise the damage caused by flooding, he said.

Asked whether the government was prepared to make funds available, he said money was not always the answer but he would like to see more money going into emergency supplies.

Mrs Williams said it was the first time a "high profile" person had come to Upton to see the floods.

"I was very impressed with him. He spoke clearly and sensibly and was very nice," she said.

"He was very much aware of the way the flood plain is being built on and he promised he would look into it."