AT LAST. That will be the reaction to today’s welcome announcement that the Government will match the funds raised by the South Yorkshire Flood Disaster Relief Appeal Fund up to the sum of £1m.
On three separate occasions in recent weeks, The Yorkshire Post directly challenged Ministers, in this column, to do the right thing for the many people – and businesses – of the Don Valley still counting the cost of last month’s floods.
And now, after the Prince of Wales met victims on Monday and the outgoing Archbishop of York used his farewell Christmas address to praise the county’s humanitarian response, Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, has acknowledged “the incredible strength of community spirit” by making this pledge.
With more than £500,000 already donated to the flood fund, it already means that over £1m will be available to help get families back on their feet. Moving forward, the Government must, however, do better. Its response was too slow after Ministers decided, erroneously, that the floods were “not a national emergency”. And, in subsequent weeks, politicians have had to be shamed into action.
As such, Mr Jenrick needs to persuade his Cabinet colleagues to review their protocols – senior officials should meet straight away when flooding in forecast to check contingency arrangements and whether the military need to be put on the standby.
At the same time, he should also be ensuring that Leeds gets the £25m that it still needs to complete its own flood defence scheme – money that Ministers have repeatedly promised and repeatedly failed to deliver.