Leeds flooding devastation was a ‘preventable disaster’

Coun. Judith Blake, leader Leeds City Council, in Kirkstall on Monday as teams of volunteers help to clear up after the flooding .

Coun. Judith Blake, leader Leeds City Council, in Kirkstall on Monday as teams of volunteers help to clear up after the flooding .

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The leader of Leeds City Council said residents and business owners hit by the floods have a right to be angry after funding cuts led to a “preventable disaster”.

Coun Judith Blake said the Government needs to act now to stop what she sees as a north-south gap in support for prevention schemes.

Leader Leeds City Council Coun Judith Blake in Kirkstall as teams of volunteers help to clear up lafter the flooding.

Leader Leeds City Council Coun Judith Blake in Kirkstall as teams of volunteers help to clear up lafter the flooding.

Coun Blake said a flood prevention scheme for the city was ditched by the Government in 2011.

And the Labour councillor contrasted the response to floods in the North of England with what happened following the inundation of parts of Somerset last year.

She told the YEP: “The point is can you honestly imagine anyone letting the financial centre of London being put at risk?”

“We have known since 2007 that the city is vulnerable. We put a scheme in place for the whole of the river Aire but the government gave back word on that funding.

We believe we put all the steps that we could in place and it would have been prevented had the funding been in place

Coun Judith Blake

“We had a cross party (council) response and put £10m in ourselves and salvaged the city centre part of the scheme.

“But we are still awaiting phase two of the scheme to be built - the area which has been devastated.

“We believe we put all the steps that we could in place and it would have been prevented had the funding been in place.

“Questions are being asked already why so many people in areas in the north are being affected.

“There is an unequal distribution of resources.”

Coun Blake said she was disappointed Prime Minister David Cameron failed to come to West Yorkshire to assess the devastation.

She said: “I heard he was coming to York but I am disappointed he has not come to Leeds as well.”

“I would like to ask him to re-think the decisions that have been made about funding to protect vulnerable areas.

“We want to know what action he is going to put in place to make sure that this type of situation cannot unfold again. We are beyond talking. We need action.”

She said she would now be urging the Communities Secretary Greg Clark to come to Leeds to discuss the flood prevention situation.

Coun Blake, who was assessing the damage caused to business in the Cardigan Fields area of Kirstall Road, also praised the army of volunteers who came to the aid of those affected by the deluge.

She added: “The community spirit has been absolutely phenomenal. Throughout the day I have seen hundreds of doing all they can to help those who have lost everything.”