BOXING DAY 2015: What has been done since the floods?

Demolition of the former Whitesands Travel building, Mytholmroyd.
Demolition of the former Whitesands Travel building, Mytholmroyd.

‘We will do everything we can to reduce the risk and impact of flooding.’

That’s the message from Calderdale Council’s leader Tim Swift one year on from the devastating floods which tore through Calderdale.

The total cost to the borough will not be known for some time, but it’s estimated that it could surpass the £50 million mark. The cost of the damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure alone is estimated at £25 million.

Coun Swift said: “The floods caused devastation across 25 miles of Calderdale. Over 2,000 residents and more than 1,000 businesses were flooded.

“Nearly one year on, the full human impact is immeasurable and the financial cost remains huge. However, throughout the year I’ve been overwhelmed by the response of local people, who continue to pull together to support each other and do whatever is needed to bounce back.

“Good progress has been made in our flood repair and resilience works, but we know there is still a great deal to do. Let there be no doubt that the Council, along with our partner organisations, will keep doing everything we can to reduce the risks and impacts of future flooding.”

Key progress made since December 2015 includes:

- The launch of a £3 million Council fund which is going towards flood recovery and resilience work across Calderdale.

- Nearly £3 million paid out in grants and council tax discounts so far to residents affected by flooding.

- More than £4 million paid out in grants and business rates discounts so far to flood-affected businesses.

- Support for businesses - teams based out in communities along the Calder Valley giving one-to-one advice, encouraging take-up of resilience grants and signposting to specialist support. Nearly 90 per cent of businesses are back to being fully operational.

- The launch of a Floods Commission to consider the flooding causes, impacts and responses.

- The launch of the Calderdale Flood Partnership’s Catchment Plan for Calderdale, which details key works to help the borough recover from the floods, improve resilience and reduce the risk of flooding. This includes strengthening defences, natural flood management, maintenance and community resilience.

- The launch of a Flood Programme Board with specialist teams dealing with flood recovery, resilience and prevention, as well as natural flood management.

- The completion of £750,000 of repairs, funded by the Department for Transport, at flood-hit Falling Royd in Hebden Bridge, which until October 2016 was reduced to one lane of traffic due to substantial flood damage to the road.

- Joint work by the Environment Agency and the Council to complete a flood risk reduction scheme in the Bacup Road area of Todmorden. Improvements have been made at 22 locations to manage water coming off the moors and improve capacity in the existing culverts.

- The four schools that were severely affected by the floods are now back on their feet. Scout Road Academy reopened in October 2016 after a 250-metre specialist safety fence was installed to help protect those using and living on the road, following the landslip caused by Storm Eva.

- Works is underway with the Canal and River Trust to repair and rebuild flood-damaged bridges in Calderdale, including the £5.5 million Department for Transport funded projects at Elland Bridge and Crowther Bridge. Work is also progressing on a new bridge for Copley.

- Working with Northern Powergrid to relocate sub-stations to improve the flood resilience of the power network.

- Reopening flood-affected Hebden Bridge Library and Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre.

- A live training exercise with emergency services and other organisations in October 2016 to rehearse the action that would be taken in response to a major flooding incident.

- A council-run marketing campaign targeting tourists, visitors and the business community to send out the message that Calderdale is open for business.

- The council has also awarded more than £30,000 to community groups to help them put on local events and festivals to celebrate all that’s great about Calderdale. The deadline for applying for the next round of funding is Wednesday, February 1 2017.

More than £50m has been committed for flood defences in Calderdale - £35m of which is new funding agreed since last December.

It includes: £15m for Hebden Bridge

£15m for the Mytholmroyd flood alleviation scheme.

£9m to repair flood defences and £6m for the first phase of the Upper Calder flood risk reduction schemes to improve protection in Todmorden, Midgley, Hebden Bridge, Elland, Eastwood and Callis Bridge.

£2.2m for Brighouse and £16.9m for the second phase of investigating, and where feasible, improving protection in Sowerby Bridge, Copley, Midgley, Halifax, Elland, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Luddenden Foot, Walsden and Brighouse.

£25m from the Department of Transport to repair damaged roads and bridges.

More than £1.6m to help Calderdale’s households and businesses recover from the Boxing Day floods.

Also: £3m from Calderdale Council for flood risk and resilience projects.

Yorkshire Water has also committed £36.3m to repair, reinstate and protect water treatment assets in Calderdale.

The Environment Agency says it will continue to seek further funding opportunities for the future.

It has also been revealed that further works will be taking place from early 2017 to help make Calderdale more flood resilient, which include:

Work starting at Woodland View in Hebden Bridge to improve the local drainage infrastructure to help protect properties, a pumped surface water scheme at Burnt Acres Wood, Eastwood, will begin, which will minimise disruption on the A646 Halifax Road and reduce flood risk to local homes and businesses, the Pin Hill Lane flood risk reduction scheme, to address drainage issues in Midgley and plans to raise flood defences at Park Road, Elland to prevent the river overtopping into the canal and flooding properties along the road .

Plans for works to improve flood protection in Copley village, Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse are also in development as the Council and partner organisations seek to enhance defences and resilience to flooding across the whole of the Calder Valley.

The council is also introducing a new ‘business enhancement’ scheme for flood-affected businesses to offer further financial support to businesses which have recovered from the floods and are in a position to start planning for growth. Grants will be available to cover a range of options, including capital purchases, development of premises and employment of new staff.