Senior councillors in Leeds will discuss the recovery plan for the city following the flooding caused by Storm Eva and what can be done to avoid it happening again at a meeting next week.
The council’s executive board will discuss the latest position regarding the impact of the floods which caused major damage to property over Christmas as well as plans to improve future flood resilience in the city at its meeting at the Civic Hall on Wednesday 20 January.
A debate on the issue is also expected to take place at the meeting of full council in the Civic Hall tomorrow (Wednesday 13 January) from 1:30pm.
The council’s latest figures show that in total more than 2,200 properties were directly affected by the flooding, made up of approximately 1700 homes, 500 businesses and 14 others such as churches and sports clubs.
Among the recommendations the council’s executive board will be asked to approve next week are:
- Carrying out a statutory investigation into the causes and impacts of the floods in Leeds to be included as part of a national review
- Delivering a recovery plan following Storm Eva, with consideration given to adopting a regeneration-based approach to aid properties along Kirkstall Road
- Requesting the government approves £3million funding to allow preparatory and design work to start on phase two of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme to improve flood defences along Kirkstall Road (phase one currently underway has seen work completed in Woodlesford and ongoing in the city centre)
- Working with the Environment Agency to seek a government commitment to progressing phases two and three of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme (as proposed by the EA in 2010) as well as looking to identify measures to increase flood resilience in other communities affected by Storm Eva and previous floods such as Hunslet and Stourton
- A lessons learned exercise to be carried out by the council on improving systems and resilience in case of future flood threats
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“As the clean-up and recovery continues, our next priority as a city is to examine the lessons we need to learn, and to have the necessary debates and discussions as quickly as possible, including doing everything in our power to persuade government for immediate action on providing Leeds with comprehensive flood defences. Their positive words of recent days now need to be followed up with actions – not in a few months or years but in days or weeks.
“Sadly there are a lot of people in our city still suffering as they try to come to terms with the devastating impact of the floods. As a council we are committed to doing everything we can to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible, either financially or through guidance and support. I would again like to thank the amazing response by all of the agencies involved, council officers and especially more than a thousand volunteers who gave up time with their families and friends at Christmas to help. That will be one of the few enduring positive memories I will take from this awful experience for our city and its residents, an experience we must do everything we can to avoid being repeated.”
Areas along both the River Aire and River Wharfe were worst impacted, with the Aire flood gauge at Armley being recorded on the morning of December 27 at 5.2 metres, compared to the highest-ever previous reading of 4.03m. The result was extensive flooding along Kirkstall Road (affecting Burley, Kirkstall and Armley) through the city centre to Crown Point with further flooding in Stourton and Hunslet.
On the Wharfe, flooding occurred at Otley, Pool, Harewood and Collingham. The storm had a devastating impact across the district and other areas affected include Horsforth, Rawdon, Allerton Bywater, Methley, Woodlesford, Wetherby and Guiseley.
Council officers worked with the emergency services and partner agencies to respond to the immediate dangers caused by the flooding, before clean-up work began assisted by more than a thousand volunteers across the city.
The clean-up work continues, with the cost of the damage still being assessed as homeowners and businesses attempt to recover. To aid the recovery, the council is offering financial support, advice and guidance to homes and businesses affected with the details available at www.leeds.gov.uk/council/Pages/Council-support-for-flood-hit-homes-and-businesses.aspx, by calling 0113 222 4444 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community engagement events are being held in areas impacted by the floods, while the council is also working with the Manufacturing Advisory Service and Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to assist manufacturing businesses impacted by the floods. The council is also liaising with the Association of British Insurers on insurance issues for those in areas affected.
In terms of infrastructure all key and high-risk elements of the city have now been initially assessed, with only Linton Bridge between Linton and Collingham likely to be closed for several months due to the damage caused. Council buildings impacted included the assisted living centre at Leeds Dock, while Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills has been closed as a result of the floods and Thwaite Mills is expected to reopen on Saturday 23 January having been closed since the floods hit.
The council is supporting the Leeds Community Foundation on its fundraising appeal, with funds raised providing grants to individuals, community groups and social enterprises who were affected by Storm Eva or have previously been affected by flooding. Details can be seen at www.leedscf.org.uk
From a regional perspective Leeds is also working with other councils and partners, especially Calderdale Council, West Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and the Environment Agency as part of the West Yorkshire Resilience Forum. For more information go to www.westyorkshire.police.uk/help-advice/west-yorkshire-resilience-forum
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Leeds City Council communications,