Latest Public Sector News

31.08.16

Leeds council leader seeks meeting over flood defence funding as review delayed

The leader of Leeds city council is seeking a meeting with the prime minister and environment secretary amid concerns about delays to a review and new funding for flood defences.

A national review of the nation’s flood defences was announced in January after Storm Desmond caused devastating floods across the north of England.

However, the review, which was due this summer, has not yet been published.

Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Any delay to the government’s flood resilience review is a concern, especially for residents and businesses in Leeds affected by, and in some cases still recovering from, the devastation caused by Storm Eva.”

Along with Cllr Tim Swift, leader of Calderdale council, Cllr Blake has now written to prime minister Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom, the environment secretary, seeking confirmation that Leeds will receive funding for a new flood defence scheme.

“We saw government cancel funding for flood defences proposed in 2011 and we can’t let that happen again,” Cllr Blake added.

The government was criticised in January for providing just £40m for flood defences following Storm Eva.

Former chancellor George Osborne promised £685m for flood defences in the most recent budget, but it is not known how this commitment will be affected by the change in government and the economic uncertainty following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, also said she had written to Leadsom and to Ben Gummer.

“It is disappointing that the national flood resilience review has been delayed and neither the flood envoys nor the minister responsible for leading the review have been replaced in Theresa May’s new government,” she said.

Creagh recently called on the DCLG to publish a plan to safeguard new houses built in high flood-risk areas.

The increasing number of floods hitting the UK is linked to climate change. May was criticised by environmental campaigners when she abolished the Department for Energy and Climate Change soon after taking office and merged it with another department to form the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that the review would be published by the end of September, adding: “We’ve always committed to publishing this review this summer, so we would say that so far it hasn’t been delayed and we’re still working to that timeframe.”

(Image c. Darren Staples from PA Wire)

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