Lack of insurance is ‘threat to Calder Valley communities’

Hebden Bridge was badly hit in the Boxing Day floods
Hebden Bridge was badly hit in the Boxing Day floods
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THE struggle for small firms to find flood insurance could put the future of communities in the Calder Valley at risk, according to a new report.

The Calderdale Flood Commission heard “many accounts” of businesses not being able to get insurance or faced with premiums so high it was unaffordable.

Its interim report also raises concerns about emergency planning for floods, the impact on health and the way flood defences are funded.

The commission was set up by Calderdale Council in the wake of the flooding which hit the Calder Valley and other parts of Yorkshire on Boxing Day.

In its interim report, the commission warns that the “ongoing risk of further flooding combined with lack of reasonable insurance cover threatens the viability of some businesses in their current locations.”

The report says: “The lack of a solution to providing adequate or indeed any insurance cover for small businesses threatens not just those companies but the towns and villages where they are based.”

The commission calls for future plans for defending the area against flood to include land and water management to slow the flow of water into the Calder.

But its report warns that the way funding is given to flood defence projects is biased towards engineered flood defences.

It raises concern that there are “bling spots” in the upper section of the valley where flood warning sirens cannot be heard.

The report also recommends further investigation into the impact on health from flooding.

“The traumatic impact of flooding on the emotional wellbeing of people must be recognised as being important and with an ongoing need for support,” the report says.

Commission chairman Paul Cobbing said: “There is still further work to be done. We’ve identified a number of critical issues which we need to examine in greater detail, including health, transport and the impact of climate change.”

Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams today urged the Prime Minister to extend the Flood Re scheme, that guarantees flood cover for homeowners, to small businesses.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Adams told MPs: “Several small businesses that I met in Tadcaster last week are being treated appallingly by insurance companies.

“Four months after the floods, claims have not been settled and renewal premiums are being hiked to astronomical levels.”

The Prime Minister promised to look at the case for a Flood Re-style scheme for businesses and said the Environment Secretary would look at complaints against insurers.

“When my constituency was badly flooded, some insurance companies paid out quickly, but others were not so fast,” David Cameron said.

The Calderdale Flood Commission’s interim report is due to be discussed tonight at a special meeting of Calderdale Council.