150 structures in Leeds ‘still being assessed for flood damage’ as recovery continues

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MORE than 150 structures in Leeds are still being checked for flood damage as the city’s huge clean-up operation in the aftermath of the Boxing Day devastation continues.

James Rogers, assistant chief executive of Leeds City Council, told the authority’s cabinet last night that a recovery management team is now in place in the city.

He said there are still “150 structures that we need to fully investigate and assess”, adding that “water levels are still high so it’s challenging - and will take a bit of time”.

A report presented to the executive board yesterday said: “The city has over 150 structures (bridges, culverts, retaining walls) that will need investigation to assess the extent of any damage.

“All key and high risk pieces of infrastructure have been initially assessed with no major causes for concern being identified other than Linton Bridge.

“All key infrastructure assets will be subject to review to see if there is any further damage identified, however, continuing high water levels will impede the full and detailed investigation of many pieces of infrastructure, particularly bridges.

“There were a number of minor carriageway impacts distributed across the affected areas. These are no longer causing any traffic impacts but will need to be addressed as part of our maintenance obligations.”

Bridges like Linton Bridge can be problematic because workers cannot get fully underneath to complete its assessment until the water level drops further.

The executive board was meeting after high level talks with Environment Minister Liz Truss earlier in the day between city MPs and senior council figures.

As well as reflecting on the “frustration” of that meeting, where the Minister ruled out the availability of any major flood defence funding for the city until at least 2022, the board stressed the “paramount importance” of helping families and businesses to get back on their feet and sort out insurance issues.

Andrew Carter, leader of the main opposition Conservative group, again offered his support to the council on lobbying Government for flood defence cash.

But he added; “We must look at a broad strategy. Hopefully we can come together and get some support as quickly as possible, but I hope we will be looking at other things that have be done to help ameliorate the effects of flooding. I don’t believe that flood defences, however high, will solve the problem alone. Water will find its way through eventually.”

He said more wetlands in the Kirkstall Valley would “surely help mitigate the effects”, and urged the council’s administration to “look again” post-flooding at sites currently in development for housing.

He used the example of one site in Horsforth which he said was “running like a river” on Boxing Day.

“Are sites like that realistic?” he asked colleagues.

Stewart Golton, leader of the Lib Dem group, said Government “shortsightedness” on comprehensive flood defences for Leeds had already lost the city billions economically, and even if it did find new funding, it would be “far less than the damage done”.

Meanwhile councillor Lucinda Yeadon, deputy leader of the council and a ward member for Kirkstall, said it was “vital” to engage the Kirkstall community in any post-flooding regeneration plans.

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