Leeds MPs to press Government for £180m flood defence money

DECEMBER 2015: Flooding on Kirkstall Road.
DECEMBER 2015: Flooding on Kirkstall Road.
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A crunch meeting with the Government over a much expanded Leeds flood defence scheme takes place today in Westminster.

Leeds MPs will spend an hour talking to Environment Secretary Liz Truss about their demand for a £180m scheme that will protect the Kirkstall part of the city where 250 businesses and 2,000 jobs were affected by the recent flooding.

Labour’s Rachel Reeves, who represents Leeds West, said they want Ms Truss to give them a commitment to an immediate flood defence feasibility study that would cost around £3m.

She said: “We are going to ask for the immediate money to do the scoping work that’s necessary, then a commitment to fund a full flood defence scheme.” She said the Government will have money available to pay for a larger scheme, but it is a case of encouraging them to spend it.

She added: “The Government spends £750bn a year if they want to do it, they can find the money - they have for the bridges at Tadcaster and Elland. This is about protecting businesses in one of the biggest cities. If the Chancellor is serious about the Northern Powerhouse, then we have got to protect businesses that protect the jobs and the wealth.”

She said if the money isn’t found the same thing will happen again which will in turn set back Leeds’ economy once again.

While she doesn’t expect the Government to say that it was a mistake to not build a £180m scheme in 2011, she does want the Environment Secretary to recognise Leeds now needs more help than ever before.

She said: “I don’t expect them to say we have made a mistake but look at the evidence as it now presents itself.”

She will be joined by Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn and others from the city.