Illustration by Steve Spencer
The Flood Resilience Review was due to be published back in July, but due to the political upheaval following the Brexit vote and David Cameron’s departure, the report was long overdue. Prompting Leeds West MP, Rachel Reeves, to accuse the Government of ‘dithering and delay’. When the report was finally published, in the second week of September, it failed to recognise the serious threat posed to York and Leeds from future flooding.
The report allocates £12.5m towards temporary flood relief for the whole of the Northern regions affected by Storm Eva. This amounts to nothing more that a ‘sticking plaster’ to cope with any recurrence of the ‘Boxing Day Floods’.
Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council commented: “Leeds is barely mentioned in this report, which really does smack of the Government not taking the risk here seriously. Storm Eva caused absolute devastation for residents and businesses in Leeds, with many still recovering”.
“The people of Leeds need the new Secretary of State to come out and confirm she will stick to the promises made to the city by her predecessor earlier this year – namely that funding will be made available to provide protection from the River Aire upstream from Leeds station along the Kirkstall Road corridor”.
“As we know to our cost, there has been a severe lack of long-term planning when it comes to funding for flood defences and there is nothing in this report to offer comfort on that level,” she said. “What we can’t have is a repeat of what happened with the cancelled flood defences in Leeds in 2011, so I have invited the Secretary of State to visit so she can meet some of the residents and businesses so badly affected by Storm Eva, although I still await her response”.