Kirkstall Road reacts to flood chaos

David Hawkes who was due to open his garage business shortley  in Kirkstall, Leeds pictured after the flood
David Hawkes who was due to open his garage business shortley in Kirkstall, Leeds pictured after the flood
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The owner of a flooded garage due to open on Kirkstall Road in January has slammed the government for its response to the devastation the floods have caused.

David Hawkes, whose £250,000 garage Autopfect was nearly ready to open before Saturday’s disaster, said: “The government talks about building a Northern Powerhouse. Well, how can that happen when a city like Leeds is six foot underwater?

“We can spend billions on foreign aid but we can’t support people when we get flooded over here.”

Mr Hawkes criticised David Cameron’s response to the floods after his visit to York yesterday. He said: “When there were floods in the South last year, he said money was no object.

“I know he said today in his statement that there would be some money for us up North but it was just completely a different tone.”

Along with many other businesses on Kirkstall Road, Mr Hawkes’ insurance company refused to provide flood cover because of the river conditions, meaning that he may have to pay for many of the repairs out of his own pocket.

He said: “Things have got to change. If this happens again, business owners and investors like me will move out of Leeds.”

Mr Hawkes thanked the many volunteers who turned out to help clean up the devastation left on Kirkstall Road yesterday.

He said: “I appreciated it, it really showed the community spirit of people coming together.

“Come tomorrow morning I will be in there cleaning it up.”

And staff at a Kirkstall Road recording studio said they were “overwhelmed” after the Leeds music community raised nearly £2000 in a crowdfunder online.

Blueberry Hill Studios was completely flooded with expensive recording equipment and instruments destroyed in water that reached waist height.

Studio Assistant Sam Hutchison said: “It was just awful. We woke up on Boxing Day and couldn’t believe it.

“But the response from Leeds has been overwhelming. I guess it shows how many lives the studio has touched. We weren’t expecting anything like this.

“It’s been like a Christmas movie plotline.”

The money raised will help Blueberry Hill re-open as soon as possible, and a fundraising concert and raffle has also been organised to take place at Brudenell Social Club on January 3.

Crowdfunder organiser James Wilkinson said: “Tom Quinn, who owns the studio, has put everything into it over the past few years. It’s renowned for having the best practise rooms in Leeds. It’s pretty tragic, and the music community wanted to show moral support.”

Onlooker Lauren Potts tweeted dramatic video of flooding on Kirkstall Road on Saturday night, saying it was “like a river - people gathering to look, they can’t believe what they’re seeing”.

The River Aire at Leeds Crown Point, usually at a height of 0.9 metre had risen to 2.95 metres at 1am on Sunday. Its previous high was 2.45 metres recorded in June 2007.

Other areas of Leeds severely affected by the floods were The Calls in the city centre, and Armley, where flood levels rose to 4.61 metres on Saturday night.

Ominous sky in Leeds
Leeds Bridge
River Aire

Photograph taken by Gary Hope
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Commuters warned of closures