Floods 100 days on: ‘Quicker and better help is needed for Leeds’s flood-hit businesses’

The aftermath of the Boxing Day floods on Kirkstall Road on December 27.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
The aftermath of the Boxing Day floods on Kirkstall Road on December 27. Picture Bruce Rollinson
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100 days on from the floods that swathed the Kirkstall Valley and parts of the city centre, businesses are still counting the cost.

Today a new flood insurance scheme to help at-risk households get more affordable cover has been launched - but it fails to help those hit hardest from the Boxing Day floods in Kirstall, business owners.

The aftermath of the Boxing Day floods on Kirkstall Road on December 27.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

The aftermath of the Boxing Day floods on Kirkstall Road on December 27. Picture Bruce Rollinson

The Government-backed scheme, Flood Re, should help almost 40,000 households across Yorkshire in the next few years, but Kirkstall councillor Coun Lucinda Yeadon says it does not go far enough.

Coun Yeadon, deputy leader of Leeds Council, said she knew of business owners who said they would be forced to leave Kirkstall when their leases expire because of the effects on insurance costs. One firm told her their excess had shot up from £1,000 to £250,000.

She said: “Lots of business are back up and running thanks mainly to all the volunteers that came down to help, but there are still those who aren’t yet open and trying to get through the red tape of insurance.

“Big businesses or chains have the security of being multi-national companies but small businesses don’t have that security net and the Government need to be able to provide that.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon

She said the Government were “letting down” the legions of small business owners by not providing insurance support for them now.

“If they are looking at adding to it in future - it could be too late,” she added.

Yorkshire Flood Envoy Robert Goodwill told the YEP last month that the Flood Re scheme could be used as a model to help small businesses, but warned it would take time.

Coun Yeadon also voiced concerns about the funding of any flood defences identified as needed in a feasibility study being carried out by the Environment Agency.

She said: “Even though businesses and residents are seeing that things are happening, they still don’t have the peace of mind that in future they will be protected.”

Since Boxing Day, the Environment Agency has spent £24m repairing flood defences across Yorkshire.

This includes the removal of collapsed bridges along the River Calder, gravel clearance and thousands of inspections.

Almost 8.500 flood defences have been assessed, with 900 identified in need of repair. Work continues to ensure all are fully operational.

The Environment Agency’s major incident recovery manager, Phil Younge, said: “The floods of December 2015 had a terrible impact on people’s lives, homes and businesses across the county. Many residents and businesses are not yet back in their properties.

“The job we have before us, of getting our defences back in a condition they were prior to flooding, is a huge challenge, but our teams are working tirelessly to restore protection to communities.”

Cori Braham.

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