MP attacks decision to halt flood work

PLANS for flood defences in York and Thirsk have been put on hold in a move criticised by an MP as "dangerous and false economy" that will cost the public more in the long run.

Hugh Bayley, Labour MP for York Central, is concerned for the Leeman Road and Water End area of his ward and said all new flood defence schemes have been stopped indefinitely.

The Environment Agency's flood risk capital budget has been cut by 26 per cent and it is only completing schemes already started, so hopes for new projects have been dashed.

York's big flood in 2000 saw hundreds of soldiers and residents work through the night to build a sandbag wall on top of flood defences to save a thousand homes from flooding.

Mr Bayley MP said: "The risk of flooding is getting worse year by year.

"My constituents living in the Leeman Road area have already spent 10 years living in fear of another big flood like the one we had in 2000 which came so close to destroying their homes.

"It is dangerous and false economy to cut funding for flood defences, which is likely to cost the public much more in the long run."

Funding for flood risk management was more than doubled by Labour administrations last decade from 249m in 2000-01 to 514m in 2008-09, he said.

The Government pressed the Environment Agency last year to budget for new flood defences in York in 2010-11 and the Agency had started public consultation on its plans.

"Because of the bigger budget, it became possible to get the Leeman Road defences into the programme and it is incredibly depressing to see all the design work being thrown away and the scheme itself being delayed indefinitely," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said the Yorkshire Regional Flood Defence Committee would be discussing the issues raised by Mr Bayley on January 27 in Leeds.