Doubts raised over ‘sticking-plaster’ £40m Storm Eva aid

Prime minister David Cameron has released a further £40m to rebuild and improve flood defences in response to the devastation that Storm Eva caused across northern England, including grants to reimburse fire and rescue authorities’ excessive costs.

Around a quarter of this cash will be used to improve the Foss Barrier protecting York, which was severely battered at the height of the storm on Boxing Day.

The remaining £30m will be spent repairing defences on the Wharfe, Calder, Aire, Ouse and Derwent rivers, including fixes to pumps, barriers and clearing blockages.

However, the government is already predicting that the overall Storm Eva flood defence repair bill will top the promised £40m once the full damage is assessed as detailed work is conducted along all affected rivers.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill has been appointed by Cameron as the flooding envoy to Yorkshire, overseeing the flooding response in the county and complementing the work of flooding minister Rory Stewart as envoy for Cumbria, Lancashire and Northumberland.

Goodwill is working alongside local groups to understand the impact of flooding in affected areas and the weaknesses exposed by the disaster, track progress towards recovery by reporting back to Cameron and assess the effectiveness of multi-agency joint working.

Both Goodwill and Stewart will report into the Flood Recovery Committee, chaired by communities secretary Greg Clark MP.

Goodwill said: “The effects of the flooding in Yorkshire have been devastating and my thoughts are with every person affected by the catastrophic weather we have seen sweep across the north of England this December.

“As a Yorkshireman I am determined to ensure I do everything I can to help protect communities in this area from the devastation flooding can cause. This is about ensuring people get the support they need as they repair their homes and rebuild their businesses.”

As happened with pledges made after Storm Desmond earlier in December, Whitehall has promised to match funding for charities for the first £2m raised. Applications for areas affected can be made by any registered charities currently running a fundraising appeal for flood relief.

This latest cash boost brings the government’s total investment in recovery as a result of both Storm Eva and Storm Desmond to nearly £200m. But Labour’s environment, food and rural affairs spokeswoman Kerry McCarthy called it a “short-term, sticking-plaster approach”.

“The government has been woefully complacent about the flood risk, ignoring warnings from its own experts,” she said in a statement. “Today’s announcement of £40m won’t go very far at all.”

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale in Cumbria, said that with an estimated £500m repair bill in his county alone, today’s money is just “a small down payment”.

And according to the Manchester Evening News, Rochdale council leader Cllr Richard Farnell claimed civil servants in the Treasury are blocking emergency cash from being paid out to Greater Manchester.

It has so far been a winter of heavy rains for the UK as Storm Eva was closely followed by Storm Frank, which left hundreds of homes without power last week across Scotland and Lancashire.

But the Met Office has already issued more amber warnings for these regions today (4 January), forecasting even more heavy rain of up to 15cm on higher ground. Yellow ‘be aware’ warnings are also in place across parts of the north east, the south west and Wales.

(Top image: David Cameron meets soldiers working on flood relief in York after the Ouse river burst its banks, c. Darren Staples/PA Wire)


Biggles   04/01/2016 at 12:36

Currently the Government spending on floods: £40M + £50M + £230M + £2.3B. It is a bit like the NHS - a bottomless pit into which we can pour endless money but never be able to satisfy the whingers.

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