Council 'hopeful' of Derbyshire receiving flood funding

Saturday, March 14th, 2020 10:04am

By Eddie Bisknell, Local Democracy Reporter @EddieBisk

The county council is "hopeful" that it will now be getting vital government money to fix millions of pounds of flood damage following new funding announcements.

Last month, Cllr Barry Lewis, Conservative leader of Derbyshire County Council, said that the authority’s request for £20 million for flood repairs had been ignored.

He said central government had “refused” to compensate the council and that it had “turned its back” on local authorities.

However, this week’s Budget announcement by new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, included a raft of spending for flood repairs and improvements.

A £120 million fund was announced for flood defence damages; £200 million for local communities to build flood defences; and £5.2 billion over six years for new flood defences.

Cllr Lewis said: “We’ve been asked to write again and so are in the final stages of completing assessments of damage from more recent storms.

“We are hopeful with the new announcements of reasonable help from the government to meet the significant cost of damage.

“The estimated cost of damages is now around £23 million to £25 million, we’ll get a better sense (of how much money we could receive) as we open the discussions.”

Mr Sunak said in his Budget speech: “Many Members around this House will have seen the devastating impact of the recent floods on homes and businesses in their own constituencies.

“I can announce today that I’m making £120 million available immediately to repair defences damaged in the winter floods.

“To support those areas that have been repeatedly flooded, I’m providing £200 million of funding directly to local communities to build flood resilience.

“And to protect people and over 300,000 properties, I’m doubling our investment in flood defences over the next six years to £5.2 billion.”

READ MORE: What was in the Chancellor's Budget? 

This week the county council said it is becoming more of a “challenge” to combat floods due to “diminishing resources” and the increased frequency of flood events caused by climate change.

It said trying to help residents during flooding is “in a high proportion of cases, ineffective”.

In total, 120 miles of Derbyshire’s roads were damaged by November’s floods. There were seven landslips, damage was caused to 25 highway structures such as bridges and retaining walls and nearly 13,500 gullies were believed to be clogged.

A council report had said: “The unseen damage through the shortening of the life of assets is concerning and will affect Derbyshire’s budgets for many years to come.”

Immediate work to make repairs to roads around the county was well under way and the first phase was to cost £600,000 – purely for post-event emergency work.

Following November’s floods, which affected hundreds of Derbyshire residents and businesses, Cllr Lewis said the upheaval was “unequivocally” linked to climate change.

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