REPAIRS TO flood defences had not been completed almost 12 months after floods devastated parts of West Yorkshire and York, it has been revealed.
A Government minister has admitted flood defences at two locations in Yorkshire had not been restored to full working order as winter returned to the region.
Following questions from Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, Floods Minister Therese Coffey confirmed repairs were ongoing in York and Keighley as late as recently as early December.
In Keighley, a blocked culvert had yet to be fixed while in York, plans to seal and leaking floodgate could not proceed until the occupier of the land had cleared the site.
An Environment Agency spokeswoman confirmed yesterday repairs at both locations have now been completed.
Mr Mulholland described the Government’s admission that some repairs remained uncompleted until recent days as “worrying”.
He said: “I am also concerned that all other flood defences have been restored to the same standard as last year when the flooding happened.
“The response from ministers will not inspire confidence in local residents and businesses who were badly affected by last year’s flooding that government has undertaken the thorough and serious preparation that I and other local MPs called for.
“I know that our incredible emergency services stand ready to help if we see flooding again, but ministers must ensure that they do not need to, and that proper contingency plans are in place to protect every part of Leeds City Region that is vulnerable to flooding.”
In her answers to Mr Mulholland’s questions, Dr Coffey said plans were in place to install a “temporary sandbag defence” at the Keighley site if there had been a risk of flooding.
At York, there were also plans for a “temporary defence” if flooding was forecast.
On Boxing Day, Yorkshire marked the first anniversary of the floods which devastated parts of West Yorkshire and York.
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs said the Environment Agency will spend almost £500m over the next six years protecting 71,000 homes from flooding in Yorkshire.
In the wake of last winter’s floods, then chancellor George Osborne announced £115m specifically to improve defence measures in Leeds, York and the Calder Valley.
A further £150m was announced in November’s Autumn Statement to support measures nationally to improve flood resilience.
However the Government has faced criticism in recent days over the slow progress in improving flood defences.
It emerged last week that just one of the 16 schemes announced by the Government following last winter’s floods has begun.
The Government has described remaining 15 schemes as being in the “design stages” but ministers have insisted construction will begin “shortly”.
The Environment Agency’s latest assessment of the damage nationally from last winter’s floods puts the cost at an estimated £1.6bn.
Flooding the previous winter inflicted damage to the economy estimated at around £1.3bn, according to the agency.