YP Letters: 10 questions Ministers must answer over Leeds floods

Communities Secretary Greg Clark visits a flooded street in Kirkstall.
Communities Secretary Greg Clark visits a flooded street in Kirkstall.
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From: Rachel Reeves, Labour MP for West Leeds.

THIS is an open letter I have sent to Greg Clark, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, after visting businesses in Kirkstall affected by the floods and to see see first-hand the devastation that they have caused and the huge worry and distress caused to local small businesses.

Over the next few, days, weeks and months, the effort will turn to try to rebuild these businesses and homes.

You announced on Tuesday £50m of support to flood affected areas. I am keen that this money is dispersed as quickly as possible to those who need it as they attempt to start trading again or get back in their homes.

I have some specific questions:

1) Who will administer this scheme?

2) How will the money be shared between the large number of cities, towns and villages affected?

3) How can businesses and individuals apply for support?

4) How quickly will money be available?

5) What is the criteria for being able to access funding?

6) What happens if demand for funding exceeds the £50m allocated?

7) What is the maximum money available per application?

8) Are there guidelines for what money can be used for?

9) How will this fund and support interact with insurance claims?

10) Will money be available to repair flood defences, as it was in the Cumbria scheme?

In addition, you would have heard from council leaders and local businesses that Kirkstall is vulnerable to floods as there are no flood defences on the river Aire to protect Kirkstall and the scheme under construction in Leeds does nothing to provide this protection to Kirkstall. The Government should, as a matter of urgency, revive plans that were previously scrapped to build stronger flood defences to ensure that a tragedy like this is not allowed to happen again. As an MP with a large number of businesses fearing for their livelihoods, I know you will understand the urgency in having these questions answered.

From: Mike Potter, Pickering.

LIKE a small ray of sunshine peeping through the massive black clouds of Boxing Day, the newly completed Pickering flood defences worked a treat while there was devastation all over Northern England.

Perhaps people in power will listen (for at least the next week or two) when they’re told this is a shining example of the way forward for cost-effective flood management. While huge damage, already estimated to cost billions, was wreaked all around, communities protected by the ‘Slowing the Flow’ (STF) in Pickering scheme got on with life as usual. The combination of Natural Flood Management (NFM) in the upper catchment and a more engineered bund above the town did exactly what they were designed to do – they evened out the flow.

I have been advocating similar methods of ‘working with nature’ in upper catchments countrywide for many years 
now, so it’s pleasing to observe first-hand the proof that it works.

Unlike costly and intrusive concrete floodwalls, the benefits will be felt over the full length of the river system and will work cumulatively across sub-catchments, ie the many tributaries above major conurbations like York, if correctly planned and implemented.

From: Stephen Boyd, Vanilla Interiors, High Street, Tadcaster.

MAY I be one of the first to say that I would very much like to see Tadcaster’s bridge repaired like-for-like? It would be a great shame to see it replaced with a steel monstrosity as Cock Beck bridge in Stutton was.

Tadcaster limestone was used in the construction of York Minster; it is not asking too much that our bridge is afforded the same honour.

From: John Watson, Hutton Hill, Leyburn.

OUR hearts go out to all those who have been flooded out of their homes. It must be dreadful to see what is going to happen and you can do nothing about it.

However, I am sick and tired of the global warmers with their “I told you so” attitude, and I suggest that some of their unconvincing theories may have infected some members of the Environment Agency.

As an ex-farmer, nobody values the the sight of wildlife more than me but are we going to sacrifice the present day living conditions of the human race for the sake of a few minor species of our fauna?

From: Mr S. B. Oliver, Churchill Grove, Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire.

THE Prime Minister, David Cameron, visited this region and, when interviewed on TV, he trotted out his PMQ type of response by stating how much had been spent on flood-defences since he became PM and what was to be spent up to 2020.

I wonder how many people spotted his “smoke and mirrors” response to a pointed question about the North receiving much less money for flood-repairs than the South. He said that people in the North had more money spent “per head” than people in the South. Anyone with any knowledge of statistics will know that there are many times more people concentrated in London and the South-East than there are here “oop North”.

This example shows how the politician uses figures to twist the statistics into “favourable” figures for the debate. We should be told the total number, and locations, of flood projects, with the costs for each. I bet that would confirm the unfair dispersal of money to projects favouring the South.