Leeds floods: Osborne asked to help with repair bill

DECEMBER 2015: Cars under floodwater in Kirkstall, PIC: Tony Johnson
DECEMBER 2015: Cars under floodwater in Kirkstall, PIC: Tony Johnson
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CHANCELLOR George Osborne is being urged to use his Budget next week to help Leeds meet the multi-million cost of repairing damage to the city from the Boxing Day floods.

Leeds has joined forces with fellow West Yorkshire councils to demand help from the Government to restore roads and bridges.

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: “In Leeds we have significant infrastructure damage which needs to be repaired as a matter of urgency including Linton Bridge.

“The cost of doing so is in the millions, so we are writing to the chancellor for confirmation we will be given the funding to proceed as soon as we can. We will also be calling for further flood alleviation measures in Leeds to be delivered as soon as possible, in order to provide the comprehensive level of protection we need. It is vital we can offer reassurance to our residents and businesses as a key element of the long-term resilience and growth of the city and wider regional economy.”

The current estimate of the repair bill facing Leeds not covered by existing Government help is estimated at almost £9 million.

Linton Bridge has been closed since December 27 with engineers putting the cost of repairs at around £4.3 million and likely to take around 12 months to complete.

Across West Yorkshire as a whole the bill is currently running at more than £40 million,

Leeds City Council is already pressing the Government to improve the city’s flood defences in the wake of the damage caused on Boxing Day.

Work is already underway on flood defence improvements but this is a much more modest scheme than the comprehensive package first proposed in 2011 which the Government failed to fund.

Ministers have now agreed to a fresh study looking at the city’s flood defence needs but it has been suggested it could be up to five years before they are in place.

Coun Blake added: “As a region working together the local authorities in West Yorkshire impacted by Storm Eva are calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make a firm commitment to prioritising immediate financial support to aid the continued recovery as well as major investment in comprehensive flood alleviation schemes in his budget speech next week.”

The latest figures show that more than 3,000 properties inclduing 678 businesses were affected by flooding or other effects from Storm Eva.

The council has paid out around £1.4 million in grants and council tax relief to help families and business owners recover.

The Chancellor will deliver his Budget in the Commons on Wednesday.