Hopes Budget will deliver more Leeds flood defence funds

DECEMBER 2015: Flooding on Kirkstall Road. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
DECEMBER 2015: Flooding on Kirkstall Road. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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Further emergency flood funding is expected to be unveiled by the Government in the budget to help communities most at risk.

A ‘critical flood’ fund for defence projects following the Boxing Day storms is an expected win for the region as Chancellor George Osborne unveils his economic plan on Wednesday for the next financial year.

The Government has already committed to £3m funding a feasibility study on expanding flood defences along the River Aire in Leeds, as well as £40m fix flood defences in Yorkshire and £280m over the next six years.

However there is concern that local authorities and businesses will be asked to contribute to some schemes to enable them to get off the ground, following an earlier financial model which saw Leeds City Council invest £10m to unlock £33m of Government money for city centre flood management.

Labour’s Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves said: “The thing to worry about is if they are talking about contributions from Leeds City Council and local businesses to flood defences.

“Leeds is of national significance – its protection is important for the overall economy.

“Small businesses are also struggling to get back on their feet. They shouldn’t have to pay a levy for flood defences.”

The Labour leader of Calderdale Council, Tim Swift, is calling for help with infrastructure after Storm Eva had a devastating impact on West Yorkshire’s roads, leaving a £43m repair bill.

He said: “Three of our bridges collapsed, three footbridges were swept away, key roads within our area have cracked and require immediate repair and we have experienced several landslides.

“We have written to the Chancellor, George Osborne and the Yorkshire Flooding Envoy Robert Goodwill MP, asking them to confirm that the repair and recovery of the critical infrastructure across West Yorkshire is a priority and requesting a clear and unequivocal commitment to further funding for the region in the budget.”