Leeds ,

Council flooding report reveals £1.4m support so far for residents and businesses impacted by Storm Eva in Leeds

Senior councillors in Leeds will hear next week how funding support of approximately £1.4million has been given to residents and businesses affected by the Christmas floods caused by Storm Eva.

The funding support forms part of a progress report to be considered by the council’s executive board at its meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 9 March. The report outlines the work carried out since the Boxing Day floods caused significant damage, ruining stock, equipment and machinery at hundreds of business premises and devastating people’s homes.

The council’s updated figures show that in total 3,396 properties were either directly flooded or affected by Storm Eva; 391 houses, 2,320 flats, 678 businesses and seven others such as churches and sports clubs.

With grant funding from the government, the council’s financial aid so far in terms of emergency flood relief grants, council tax relief and property resilience support has seen over £1million awarded to businesses affected with a further £400,000 for residents.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:

“We are now two months on from the events of Boxing Day and the aftermath but those directly affected continue to need as much support as we can give them so it is pleasing to see the funding is getting where it is needed.

“We have a duty to those people and everyone in the city to make sure we get comprehensive flood defences in place as quickly as possible, so we will continue to make the strongest possible case we can to the government for the level of investment in Leeds to make that happen.”

Information about the council’s financial support available can be seen at www.leeds.gov.uk/council/Pages/Flooding.aspx, with the guidance on the council’s website being visited by approximately 25,000 people since the floods hit.

Businesses are also able to apply for additional funding through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority scheme via the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership at www.the-lep.com/floodsupport/

The executive board report also includes the following updates:

  • A commitment of funding has been secured from the government for a feasibility study into the next phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme. Leeds City Council is working with the Environment Agency on developing the study to be ready by mid-March, with the potential to call for enhanced protection further upstream than in the previous EA report in 2010.
  • The council is also working with the Environment Agency to identify measures to reduce flood risk at Mickletown/Methley from the River Aire and at Otley from the River Wharfe
  • Range of options being developed to assist the Kirkstall area through a regeneration approach.
  • Community engagement events have taken place in Kirkstall, Otley, Methley and Mickletown, Collingham, Hunslet and Stourton. Since Storm Eva Yorkshire Voluntary Flood Support has been created along with new flood recovery-focused community groups in Kirkstall and Otley.
  • Work continues on developing a strategic recovery plan for Leeds, with new subgroups established to focus on infrastructure and third sector involvement.
  • Work is also taking place at a regional level with the West Yorkshire Resilience Forum and the Leeds City Region to look at aspects including the resilience of critical local infrastructure, business insurance, current and future flood investment policies, and the effect on planning policy for housing and commercial development.

In terms of infrastructure, Linton Bridge which enables access between Linton and Collingham is the main issue in Leeds as it has been closed since December 27 due to floods damage to its foundations.

Work has now begun on stabilising the bridge to allow a full damage assessment to take place, but the repair costs could be approximately £4.3million and take an estimated 12 months to be carried out. Leeds City Council is currently evaluating options in terms of temporary access arrangements.

The council has started the process of completing the statutory detailed Section 19 report into the causes and impact of Storm Eva, while lessons learned reviews are also underway at local and regional levels.

Leeds City Council is also exploring options to recognise the efforts of more than a thousand volunteers who helped across the city following the floods, with plans to include this element in the city’s annual volunteering celebration.

Councillor Blake added:

“Linton Bridge is a major worry as it could be closed for a considerable period of time and cost millions to repair, so we would please ask for patience while we carry out the necessary assessment work and evaluate what we can do to minimise the impact of it being closed.

“The one positive to come out of this experience is that in communities across Leeds it has brought people closer together, as seen by the amazing response of the volunteers and the community groups set up since the floods, and that sense of spirit and a desire to help needs to be rightly applauded and celebrated.”

For details of the flood guidance for Leeds, visit www.leeds.gov.uk/council/Pages/Flooding.aspx