FLOOD-hit residents have expressed their anger after the Environment Agency cancelled a meeting to discuss their concerns.

The authority claimed the Government’s new social gathering rule of six - which doesn’t come into effect until tomorrow - was the reason it could not longer meet with residents four days ago as planned.

People living in Etterby Terrace and Eden Place were told of the cancellation the day they were due to meet with the EA in the parking area between their houses.

They wanted answers about what was being done to protect their properties from flooding, having already been through the nightmare twice.

Alison Armstrong, of Etterby Terrace, said: “I was absolutely fuming. People were at work and they were coming back for it. It was another excuse of not getting anything done.”

Her husband David Armstrong said he wasn't surprised. "I thought they would back out and they just needed one little excuse and they got it," he said.

A member of staff from the Environment Agency visited homes and delivered information to let residents know of the cancellation and what was being done.

It included a message from Stewart Mounsey, flood risk manager for Cumbria, which read: “The safety of you and our local communities is important to us and following the Government's announcement, that from Monday groups of more than six people are unable to meet, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone the meeting."

The EA plans to hold a virtual meeting in the coming weeks but Mrs Armstrong said this is no good for elderly residents who don't have internet access.

It also provided information about drainage works and inspections that have been carried out to date as well as what is being done to refurbish the existing defence, which didn't serve it's purpose during Storm Ciara as river water needed to be pumped away to protect homes.

"What happens if we flood? They have known since February the wall was damaged and it is now September," added Mrs Armstrong.

Mr Dockerty, who lives nearby, said: "It’s just the way it was cancelled at the last minute. The way they jumped on this six person rule which doesn’t come in until Monday. They were just waiting for an excuse to get out of it.

"They don’t want to do anything face to face and a virtual meeting is just another way of hiding.

"Five years we have been waiting and we are still waiting."

The EA said it needs to work with the county and city councils and United Utilities to assess the risk of flooding from drains, sewers and flooding to develop any future options of additional defences in this area.

The options will then need to be assessed for the feasibility, affordability, community acceptability and environmental sustainability, said the authority, which plans to start appraisal work this winter.