EVEN THOUGH 2018 has been dominated by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s indifference over the region’s railways, this Government’s complacency over the state of the North’s infrastructure was self-evident three years ago when the devastating Storm Eva floods hit Leeds and Yorkshire.
The promise of David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, to offer every possible assistance proved meaningless when it emerged that priority had been given to flood alleviation measures in the Thames Valley at the expense of this region.
Yet, while an initial scheme has been completed to protect homes and businesses in Leeds when the River Aire rises, the Government is still to sign off funding for phase two which would protect a far greater area at a cost of £112m.
Given that Storm Eva caused more than £500m of damage to this region, the intransigence of Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, and Dr Thérèse Coffey, his obstructive deputy, is disappointing when many homeowners and businesses are struggling to obtain affordable insurance.
Flood defences are not just an insurance policy to support other measures being taken to control the flow of rivers and watercourses that are prone to flooding. They are also an investment in the future because of the potential cost to the national economy if a large city like Leeds suffers greater damage than the devastation witnessed in 2015. Given this, it will be a dereliction of duty on the part of Mr Gove if he does not look more favourably on the Leeds scheme. For many, this is as important, if not more so, than Brexit.