Just months after their Cantonese restaurant in Pickering's town centre was devastated by several feet of floods, Jenny and Richard Mo have proudly reopened its doors after round-the-clock work, and on Saturday, Shadow Floods Minister Ann McIntosh was one of the first to admire its new look.

"I am hugely impressed, " said the Vale of York MP. "I cannot believe that so much has been achieved after seeing the horrific state of the restaurant just after it was flooded. It is a brilliant restoration and great credit is due to everyone involved."

Miss McIntosh, along with Ryedale MP John Greenway, councillors and residents, has been supporting the flood defence campaign backed by the Gazette & Herald.

She was on a fact-finding tour, seeing how the town's businesses and householders are fighting back after the June floods which caused hundreds of thousands pounds worth of damage and lost business.

She said she wants to see a scheme drawn up by the Environment Agency which would enable farmers and landowners to be compensated for having targeted fields deliberately flooded to avoid towns and villages in Ryedale being flooded in the future. In addition, she said, the Environment Agency needed to create a dredging action plan.

"But I am anxious not to see water displaced from one area to another, " said Miss McIntosh.

"Some businesses are now well-advanced in their renovation schemes after the floods and it is marvellous to see how they have worked so hard and determinedly to get back into business."

She said that while planners had a role to play in overseeing schemes which involved listed buildings in particular, it was vital that there was a balance between conservation and helping the stricken traders to get back into business.

"My concern is that while we have seen a spell of good weather in recent weeks, the heavy rain and potential flood conditions could return in October and November.

Pickering has been hit six times in recent years and I am anxious to see action taken by the Environment Agency to help combat future floods."

She has been in talks with Defra, the Government's environment and rural affairs ministry, as well as the Environment Agency and has been in contact with Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn and department minister, John Healey, who has links with Pickering, having been a former student at Lady Lumley's School, and who was Labour Parliamentary candidate in the constituency in the 1992 General Election.

Miss McIntosh is pressing the ministers to create one lead agency to deal with flooding.

"At present responsibility seems to be spread across several departments, " she said.

"The ministers are aware of the problems and I am asking them to look at the whole flooding response situation."

The Government's designated Floods Minister, Phil Woollas, is likely to be making a visit to Pickering in the future, added Miss McIntosh.

"It is vital that flood hit towns in this area such as Pickering and Thirsk, are given priority by the Environment Agency for flood defence work because their economies do depend heavily on tourism and passing trade, " she said.

Dr Tim Thornton, who accompanied Miss McIntosh around Pickering, said that in his professional capacity as a family doctor he had seen the impact of the flooding crisis first hand.

"It has caused considerable distress and unhappiness, and a loss of confidence in many people because they say there is nothing to stop the floods happening again.

Something must be done, " he said.

Dr Thornton, who is vice-chairman of the Pickering 2020 Group set up to plan ideas for the town's future, had offered to help to pursue flood alleviation measures.

Coun Howard Keal, spokesman for the Pickering Flood Defence Group, who met Miss McIntosh, said: "I am putting together a briefing for Miss McIntosh to provide her with more ammunition to direct at Defra as part of the campaign for flood defence work.

"We have long supported compensation being given to farmers to provide areas to take water when rivers are in spate to help prevent communities being devastated.

"A lead agency would certainly make sense, knitting all the agencies together to help protect our communities from the threatened ravishes of climate change.

"As well as a more co-ordinated response there needs to be better land management to reduce risk of flooding."

He added: "It doesn't matter where the fire comes from so long as the bullets are trained in the right direction."

Coun Keal said the group was also pressing on every front to seek a meeting with John Healey and other ministers, and a meeting with Defra minister Mr Woollass.

He said Ryedale District Council had had a "very disappointing response" from Hilary Benn. "He has given us nothing. We need to go back to him to set the record straight on the historic planning applications for a defence scheme, and to take account of the whole situation and arrive at a more sound judgment."

Coun Keal added: "We want to get a meeting with John Healey as a delegation to present a petition to him."

Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Mo have praised Pickering craftsmen for their work in restoring their Fortune Inn Restaurant.

Builders Paul Redgate and Ted Harrison, joiner Alan Farrow and Son, painter Peter Bower, electrician John Waind, and gas engineer Michael Magson backed up the labouring and plumbing work of Mr Po.

"Everyone has been tremendously supportive, " said Mrs Po.