Political leaders want Yorkshire floods to be classed a national emergency

Fire and rescue services help people in a canoe in Fishlake, Doncaster. Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Fire and rescue services help people in a canoe in Fishlake, Doncaster. Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Political leaders have continued to call for the floods which devastated areas of Yorkshire and beyond to be considered a national emergency.

Sir Stephen Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said that he agreed with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s comments made on the subject this weekend, however the Government has confirmed that it activated the Bellwin scheme, which reimburses local authorities for costs they incur as part of their response to the flooding in the region, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

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Five severe flood warnings – which represent a “danger to life” - yesterday remained in place for locations along the River Don.

The Environment Agency called upon the support of the military to help strengthen flood defences in the Bentley Ings area of Doncaster, using a Chinook helicopter to transport materials ahead of forecasts for more rainfall today.

Damian Allen, chief executive of Doncaster Council, yesterday said “we are still in an emergency situation” and was “concerned over reports that some residents remain in the Fishlake area” - urging people to take the opportunity to be evacuated from the community by fire crews.

He said: “The council are unable to offer on the ground support to residents who are in severe flood warning areas, based on advice from the Environment Agency.”

Those stranded in their homes were supplied with food by the Hare & Hounds pub in Fishlake but landlords Angie and Scott Godfrey took to social media yesterday to say they were “fuming” that the council had not kept them supplied.

-> 28 shocking photos of the flooding in Yorkshire
Sir Stephen referenced the need for help following years of reduced budgets for councils since previous floods in 2007.

He described the latest floods as “significant” and said the Government should be asking what it can do to help and not “leaving” it to people locally.

“I think Jeremy Corbyn is right in that the Government shouldn’t just sit back and do photo call visits.”

He added: “Twelve years ago it was a strain on local authorities to meet the scale of what was there. After 12 years of austerity and reductions in numbers of staff, it’s harder.”

Sir Stephen called for a review of flood defences and of what capabilities there are to deal with them in future.

He also asked for the Government to look at how it might help those who may struggle to claim insurance, saying that many of those suffering from the floods are likely to be those affected last time around.

He said: “My guess is the insurance companies are going to make it difficult to find affordable insurance.

“What can the Government do to help?”

It comes after Jeremy Corbyn took to Twitter to publish a picture of The Yorkshire Post’s front page on Saturday, which cited Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying the flooding was “not looking like something we need to escalate to the level of a national emergency”.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it could not comment because of purdah, a period before a General Election restricting what civil servants and politicians can say.