Two weeks after floods devastated Leeds, the city’s recovery has only just begun.
As many businesses remain shut and bills to repair the damage rise higher and higher, it is clear that it will take many months for Kirkstall Road and other areas affected to return to normality.
Leeds’s eight MPs have arranged a meeting with Environment Minister Elizabeth Truss to discuss the aftermath of the floods, which particularly affected Kirkstall Road, and to explore how they can be prevented from happening again.
A letter to Truss signed by the MPs said: “We need to support our community and the businesses affected at this devastating time, and would appreciate the time to meet with you to discuss how we can urgently improve our cities flood defences to prevent any future damage of this nature in Leeds.”
And the anger of Kirkstall Road business owners was palpable yesterday at a meeting held between them, council leaders and Rachel Reeves MP.
One man shouted: “Nonsense, nonsense, you’re living in a dreamland” after a representative from the Association of British Insurers tried to reassure business owners that insurers were doing all they can to support those affected.
And John Liversedge, chair of Kirkstall Valley Community Association, told Rachel Reeves and leader of the Leeds City Council Judith Blake: “Kirkstall Road is at a risk of becoming desolate. Businesses will just sell up and leave the area.”
Over 100 people attended the meeting at Viva Cuba on Kirkstall Road. Many business owners have complained that because their insurance companies refused to provide flood cover, they are going to be forced to make up the costs of repairs themselves.
But Coun Blake said that the council will offer help with relief packages, including a £5,000 grant to help businesses install further flood defences. Meanwhile Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has raised the issue of flood defences in Leeds directly with the Prime Minister in a strongly-worded letter.