Government deal ‘closer’ over insurance in flood-risk areas

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THE Government and insurance industry are moving closer to ending their impasse over cover for homes at risk of flooding it was claimed, as volunteers continued to clean-up Hebden Bridge following the latest deluge.

Forecasters are warning of the threat of more rain in the coming days with the fear that already saturated ground will not be able to cope and more areas will flood.

Businesses and residents in Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd mounted a desperate battle on Monday after heavy rain created torrents of water, carrying stones and small boulders, overwhelming drains and leading to rapidly rising water levels.

The cloudburst over Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd resulted in a month’s worth of rain – 1.75 inches – falling in just three hours and was the second time the area had been inundated in less than three weeks.

A fund set up by The Community Foundation For Calderdale to help those hit after the first floods has now raised £54,000 but last night calls were made for more.

Rachel Julian, from the Foundation, said: “So many people had lost virtually everything in the lower half of their homes, many losing all of their kitchen equipment, rendering them unable to cook food, store food, wash clothes etc, some have even had to leave their homes.

“I have visited people who have been devastated by what has happened to them and when I tell them they can apply to the Foundation for a grant to help with replacing things like fridges and washing machines it truly eases some of the worry they are feeling.”

Last month flood campaigners and Yorkshire MPs issued fresh pleas for the Government and the insurance industry to end their long-standing impasse over cover for at-risk homes amid mounting fears that hundreds of thousands of people could be left badly exposed next year.

There are fears that despite months of protracted negotiations, the Government and the insurance industry have failed to agree a way forward after a Statement of Principles – which guarantees cover for flood-risk homes – expires next summer.

If no deal is struck, an estimated 200,000 home owners could be left without any insurance cover.

But last night, Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, said a deal was moving closer.

“We want to go further than the Statement of Principles to reach an agreement that ensures both the availability and the affordability of flood insurance for the first time.

“The insurance industry and the Government, working closely together, have made great progress towards this goal.”

Most insurance companies already raise a small sum from policy holders to cover the cost of insuring high-risk homes and the industry wants to formalise this arrangement and to correct an imbalance in the market where some insurers are at an advantage in being able to solely offer products to low risk customers whereas others currently have to offer cover to many high risk properties.

Last night, Gemma Plumb, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, warned a further band of heavy, persistent rain will move in from the South West today.

One flood alert remained in force for the region last night, on the River Foulness and the Market Weighton Canal at Welham Bridge, near Howden.

The bad weather has forced Wakefield Council to postpone the Love Where You Live Wakefield Walk 2012, which was due to take place on Saturday at Anglers Country Park in Wakefield.

The Community Foundation for Calderdale is asking for donations via the website: wwwlocalgiving.com/cffc or by texting cffc01 followed by the amount to 70070.