Leeds MP Rachel Reeves urges government to 'commit' and pay for Leeds flood defences

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LEEDS West MP Rachel Reeves has used a House of Commons debate to repeat her call for a commitment from the Government to protect the city from future flooding.

During a Commons debate on the economy, the MP took the chance to quiz Chancellor Sajid Javid on when the Government will commit to fund the £25m shortfall needed to complete the £112m Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme in full and prevent a repeat of the floods which devastated the city on Boxing Day in 2015.

The Chancellor responded with the announcement of "significant new funding" for flood defences which Ms Reeves said she now hopes will be used to improve the city's level of protection.

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Work starts on vital flood protection work for Leeds
Flooding in Kirkstall Road in December 2015.  Picture Bruce RollinsonFlooding in Kirkstall Road in December 2015.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Flooding in Kirkstall Road in December 2015. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Speaking in the Commons she said: "In Leeds West, we had serious floods in 2015, and yet still the Government refuse to put in the funding to build the flood defences to protect against the one in 200-year flood event that we experienced. When will the Government put the money into that infrastructure?”

Mr Javid responded: "That is an important point. I am aware of some of the serious flooding to which the honourable Lady has referred. That is why our national infrastructure plan includes much more funding—significant new funding—for flood defences, and I hope that she will welcome that and support those plans when they come before this House.”

Speaking after the debate, Ms Reeves said: "I hope the Chancellor’s comments to me mean that the Government will commit to providing the funds to fully protect Leeds and my constituents from future floods."

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves. Picture: Simon HulmeLeeds West MP Rachel Reeves. Picture: Simon Hulme
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves. Picture: Simon Hulme

She added: "We need to see more action and less talk when it comes to the Government's much-promised commitment to the North. Local people have had to endure endless delays. We need this scheme in place as soon as possible."

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The Commons debate came on the day that work began on phase two of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, on defences upstream of the city's railway station, along the so-called Kirkstall Corridor, which suffered most severely in the deluge four years ago.

The £87m work will protect against a one-in-100 chance of flooding in any given year but council chiefs and politicians have been calling for a further £25m to boost the city's protection, with the 2015 floods being the equivalent of a one-in-200 year disaster.