Leeds MP Rachel Reeves demands more flooding cash before ministers 'live to regret dither and delay'

The 2015 floods in Leeds. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
The 2015 floods in Leeds. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves is calling on Ministers to use their upcoming spending blueprint to earmark cash for the city's planned flood defences before they “live to regret their dither and delay”.

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Rachel Reeves, Leeds West Labour MP. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Rachel Reeves, Leeds West Labour MP. Picture: Tony Johnson.

The move came after Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Richmond MP Rishi Sunak, responded to a letter last month from Ms Reeves urging the Government to deliver on protection by investing in Phase Two of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.

In his response, the Treasury Minister did not commit the funds - despite the former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss, saying that Leeds would receive the “right level of protection”, adding that Yorkshire would have one of the “most resilient flood defence programmes in the country” after catastrophic downpours which led to huge floods across the region in late 2015.

Mr Sunak said: “Later in the autumn, the Government will announce its ambitious plans for future capital spending, including the publication of the National Infrastructure Strategy”.

Flooding alerts have been issued in the city this week after downpours.

Ms Reeves said: “Yet again the Government is coming up with excuses for its failure to deliver the funds needed to properly protect Leeds from the potentially devastating impact of future floods.

“I hope ministers do not live to regret their dither and delay. If we do not get proper flood defences in place it is the businesses and communities in my constituency who will pay the price.

“The Government should ensure all the required funds for flood defences are including in its forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy.

“I will keep up the pressure on the Government and the Environment Agency until we get all the funds in place to build the city’s flood defences.”

Almost four years ago on Boxing Day 2015, devastating floods struck Kirkstall and Burley in Ms Reeves’ Leeds West constituency when Storm Eva hit the city.

More than 2,600 homes and 700 commercial buildings were damaged. Some businesses needed to relocate, and others were forced to close.

To provide protection from future flooding like those seen in 2015, a flood defence scheme capable of providing a "1-in-200-year" level of protection is required.

Leeds City Council has drawn up Phase Two of its Flood Alleviation Scheme to provide this degree of protection, while the Government has committed to spending £65 million on this project with a total of £86.8 million in funding secured.

But Ms Reeves argues that the figure falls £25.3 million short of the £112.1 million required to provide the city with the protection it needs.

In his letter in response to Ms Reevs, Mr Sunak said: "The Government takes flood risk very seriously. That is why we are investing £2.6billion over six years in our flood capital programme in order to better protect 300,000 homes from flooding by 2030."

A Government spokesperson said:“We are already investing heavily to provide better flood protection for communities and homes in Leeds.

“Since the devastating floods of 2015, we have committed £100m to bolster protections in the city. This includes investing more than £35m for the city centre, and a further £65 million to protect the wider area, including Kirkstall Road.”