Leader of Leeds City Council, Cllr Judith Blake, has labelled the proposed government investment in the city following the Boxing Day floods as ‘disappointing’ and is keen for the situation to be reviewed.
A number of homes and businesses were flooded during the downpour in December, when the River Aire burst its banks.
As the clean-up continues, figures released this week suggest that the total cost of the floods across Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria will surpass £1.3billion.
£33 million has been pledged by Transport Minister Robert Goodwill – recently appointed Yorkshire’s new flooding envoy, to combat flood defences on the River Aire, and further reiterated by Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss.
However Cllr Blake says this money was actually approved several years ago and more must be done to handle the current situation.
“The comments by the Secretary of State are disappointing as they do not commit the government to providing the investment in the comprehensive flood defences the city and its residents and businesses clearly need.
“The work going on in the city centre is only one element of a much larger plan for the whole city, and we are determined to see that comprehensive protection originally put forward by the Environment Agency in 2010 reinstated.
“The people of Leeds deserve better than to be short-changed with anything else than the best possible level of protection, so we are very keen to speak to the Secretary of State as soon as possible as part of the review into the situation in Leeds she promised.”
In 2011, a £190 million flood protection scheme on the River Aire was cancelled by the government.
Speaking in Parliament, Leeds West MP, Rachel Reeves, also questioned the government’s decision to cancel the funding.
She said: “If [the flood protection] had been in place, businesses on the Kirkstall Road would not have been devastated by the floods on Boxing Day.
“We can never allow that tragedy to happen again—what will the Minister do?”