Firms pay tribute to council’s help after flooding

John Allan
John Allan
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A COUNCIL has been praised for helping businesses in a Yorkshire valley to get back on their feet after devastating floods which happened a year ago – but it remains to be seen what help will be given to firms hit by last week’s flash flood.

John Allan, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, made the comments after touring the Calder Valley two days after the latest flash flood devastated Todmorden.

After visiting small businesses to see how they recovered following floods last summer, he praised Calderdale Council for giving financial and other help to those who suffered.

Following a tour of Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd, Mr Allan said: “A lot of our members in the Calder Valley were badly affected by last year’s floods and the support given by Calderdale Council is commendable.

“The FSB would like to extend our thanks to the council for acting so swiftly and getting the much needed flood relief out to businesses and residents.”

However, he was critical of insurers, saying: “Insurance companies have been slow to pay out on policies and some of our members remained closed for five months.

“The flood relief (from the council) provided an extremely valuable buffer and we are immensely appreciative of this, especially considering that the council has been left with a £1.9m bill.”

The flood relief programme provided grant support for flood defence barriers and provided assistance with the clean-up operation.

During a tour of Hebden Bridge he visited business owners including Hannah Nunn, of Radiance, a lighting shop, and Marcus Doyle, of the Yorkshire Soap Company, which used the relief programme to pay for flood shutters to protect the shop.

Chris Glen, West Yorkshire regional chairman of the FSB who accompanied Mr Allan on his tour, said: “With the exception of one or two national stores, Hebden Bridge is a town of small, independent businesses and it’s thriving.

“It is great to see these businesses not only working together to promote the town, but also selling the designs and handcrafted products from other entrepreneurs and small businesses in the UK.

“The businesses we met in Hebden Bridge are real success stories. They’re employing and training local people, they’re promoting other businesses and they’re expanding, either into bigger premises or opening additional shops.

“Hebden Bridge went through a difficult period last year after the floods, and the threat of flash flooding will always be at the back of people’s minds, but the town is bustling and our national chairman was really impressed with the entrepreneurial and community spirit in the town.”

The FSB tour was part of its Keep Trade Local campaign which aims to promote independent traders and encourage shoppers to support their local small businesses. The FSB is calling for Small Business Rate relief to be made permanent in England as it is in Scotland and for business rates to be linked to inflation.

Around 90 properties suffered in Monday’s flood. Twelve businesses affected included a gym, fish and chip shop and a pub. Last night a council spokesman said it was still assessing the impact of Monday’s floods on businesses. Once this was complete, it would be able to determine what support could be given.