In The Constituency: Rebuilding after the floods dominates Whittaker’s agenda

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In the final of the series, Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker reflects on the impact of last winter’s floods

FLOOD money has arrived from Government but it must be well spent by local authorities and on time, West Yorkshire MP Craig Whittaker has warned.

The Calder Valley MP said he will be making sure that millions of pounds handed over by Whitehall departments since Yorkshire’s devastating winter floods go on rehabilitating the community, protecting livelihoods and getting transport networks back up to scratch.

More than 2,500 homes and 1,600 businesses were hit by extreme flooding over Christmas 2015 and into the New Year and pictures of Hebden Bridge’s Market Street under several feet of water dominated the press.

“The devastating events of Boxing Day 2015 will never be forgotten here in the Calder Valley and the impact will continue to be felt across many local communities for years to come. The floods brought untold misery and suffering to a record number of people in our constituency with 2,700 homes and 1,600 businesses directly flooded and many more indirectly affected,” said Mr Whittaker, who has been MP for the area since 2010.

While most MPs spend their year combining work in Westminster, campaigns and case work, the 53-year-old said the last eight months have been dominated solely by trying to respond to the fallout from flooding for constituents.

He said: “The initial support provided by the Government came through in record time and the response from the community was absolutely fantastic.

“The way in which people rallied around to help those in need was tremendous to see and showed exactly why our area is such a great place to live.”

In the height of summer it feels as though normality is slowly returning to the Calder Valley, but he said there is still a lot of work to do.

Earlier this year £35m was handed over by the Government to defend the length of the valley against rising water.

A further £24.9m was given for repairs to highways and infrastructure.

Mr Whittaker said: “We now need to ensure that the Environment Agency (EA) uses these funds to deliver plans for the whole of the Calder Valley which encompass physical flood defences and address the issues relating to upland management and long-term sustainability.”

What is your favourite view?

“I’m lucky to have lived in both the upper and lower valleys and to have enjoyed the spectacular views they both offer. If pressed to choose one, I’d say the view from Pecket Well, Hebden Bridge.”

Where is your favourite place to eat?

“There really are so many incredibly good places to eat in the Calder Valley it’s impossible to narrow it down to one favourite!

“The place I visit most regularly however is the Millers Bar in Brighouse.”

Your favourite day out?

“A walk to Walshaw from Hardcastle Craggs takes some beating.”