I wonder if we can expect anything more from the Government to help pay for the flood repair and recovery work now that David Cameron has said that he will “look at” the need for more funding.
So far I have been disappointed that our local MP, Craig Whittaker, appears to be unwilling to advocate for us. As was said by the reporter on BBC Look North, it’s just not fair that, of an initial cost of £2.6m as reported to Calderdale Council’s cabinet (and last week’s scrutiny panel meeting), we have had just £80,000 from the government’s Bellwin scheme. There are two parts to this issue: first, there has been the need to do immediate repair work of the damage that was caused in June/July last year. That work was done, not only by the council, but also the other public organisations responsible for the local environment (the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water etc). It was extremely disappointing that nothing much has come so far from the visits of the Great and Good in the immediate aftermath of the floods in the Upper Valley. And then, there’s the longer-term repair, protection and resilience work: to make sure that the infrastructure (walls, drains, roads) are in a fit state to cope with future floods, as well as helping people and businesses protect their premises. There is work underway to calculate what needs to be done as outlined in the report to the council’s scrutiny panel (and available on the council’s website), I’m expecting to hear more of the detail of this at the next meeting of the flood strategy group planned for mid-Februuary. But in the meantime, I’m doing what I can to raise this issue at a national, governmental level. It seems that the council may have to simply pay the bill for the immediate work but I want to make sure that we’ve done our utmost to make the case for support from national government. I expect our MP to play a leading role in this: and the Prime Minister to seriously consider how the government can help.
Coun Janet Battye
(Liberal Democrat, Calder ward, and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Deputy Leader, CMBC)