'˜Speed up response when floods hit' - inquiry

Boxing Day floods, Sowerby Bridge 2015Boxing Day floods, Sowerby Bridge 2015
Boxing Day floods, Sowerby Bridge 2015
ACCELERATING EMERGENCY help for victims should be one of the lessons learned from the floods which hit Yorkshire last winter, according to councillors.

An inquiry following the devastating floods will recommend the process for calling in additional manpower, such as the armed services, at times of emergency should be streamlined.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s overview and scrutiny committee called for a review of the way decisions are taken over how emergency services are deployed.

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Committee member and Calderdale councillor James Baker said when he arrived in Hebden Bridge the day after the floods he found no signs of outside help.

“Days later we had motorcycle clubs providing security because there was inadequate policing provision for people in those flood hit communities.

“It took days for the Army to arrive anywhere near Calderdale by which time a lot of people had done a lot of the leg work themselves,” he said.

Coun Dot Foster said West Yorkshire’s emergency services had been stretched to “breaking point” as the floods had affected so many places simultaneously and called for procedures to make it easier to draw on help from neighbouring areas.

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The committee’s other recommendations include giving greater consideration to flood issues when councils consider the local plans that dictate where new homes and businesses are built.

It is also suggesting the creation of a single telephone number for the public to ring for help in the aftermath of incidents such as floods.

Meanwhile, a new study from insurance giant Aviva has shown one in five people in Yorkshire would consider buying a house in a flood-risk area despite the devastating floods that hit the region last winter.

It found Yorkshire residents are more likely to consider buying a home in a flood-risk are than a high crime area – 12 per cent of Yorkshire dwellers would consider buying in a high crime area, compared with a national average of 19 per cent

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Yorkshire residents are more open to home improvements than the rest of the UK, with more than two thirds (69 per cent) prepared to consider buying a house which required improvements to make it safe and secure, compared with the national average of 65 per cent.

Lindsey Rix, from Aviva General Insurance, said: “Despite the devastating floods which affected York last winter, one in five people in Yorkshire would consider buying a home in a flood risk area just to get on the property ladder, only marginally lower than the national average of 23 per cent.

“While we understand that it can be a challenge for some people to become homeowners, the impact of flooding can be traumatic and long-lasting so we would advise would-be homeowners to check the risk of flooding to a property before they buy as well as check whether there are flood defences in place to protect the home.”

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