Some flood-hit businesses along Kirkstall Road may never reopen, a senior councillor has warned.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon (Lab, Kirkstall) said that some businesses down Kirkstall Road were already back up and running after the River Aire burst its banks on Boxing Day, flooding the area under several feet of water.
But she added others would have a longer recovery process and some small businesses may not recover at all.
Speaking at a Kirkstall Forum community meeting last night, Cllr Yeadon said:
“There are some traders who are not open and may not open. If that’s the case we have to make sure that the empty properties don’t become a problem. The council is offering all the help it can to work with local traders and we are working on a strategy to tackle any empty properties.
“There is a lot of work to do still and it’s going to be a long process. I spoke to one business owner at the weekend who has 25 members of staff. But the business has been closed for the past month with absolutely no income – it is very tough for people.”
Cllr Yeadon emphasised the need that more help and support was still needed in the area. She added:
“The floods happened a month ago today and there are still volunteers helping the clean-up on a daily basis. The clean-up itself is nearly finished – we’re now looking towards the rebuild.”
She renewed calls for skilled tradesmen to help out with the rebuild, saying a database of skilled people willing to give their time and expertise to help with the refitting process at shops and businesses had been compiled.
Kirkstall resident John Liversedge, who is also acting as a volunteer during the crisis, added:
“The council has done a fantastic job in supporting the volunteers with the tidy up.”
Cllr John Illingworth (Lab, Kirkstall) voiced concerns about the £1 million of flood damage caused to Leeds Rhinos’ training ground, near Kirkstall Morrisons, labelling the situation ‘tragic’.
All seven training pitches and the main building at the Kirkstall site the Rhinos share with rugby union side Yorkshire Carnegie were contaminated by flood water at the end of December.
Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington told BBC Radio Leeds:
“When we were able to access it, the reality hit everybody. The whole site was under water. The changing rooms, medical rooms and gymnasium, and all the equipment was completely destroyed.
“All the pitches are contaminated so they need to be dug up and reseeded. The 3G pitch needs to be replaced. The buildings need to be replastered, all the floors need to come up.”
Me Hetherington said it could be six months before the grass pitches and gymnasium could be used again.
Last night’s Kirkstall Forum meeting also heard council officers talk about the drain-cleaning operation across the city – and that any blocked drains ‘were not linked’ to Kirkstall’s flooding issues.
The meeting, at Burley St Matthias Centre, was attended by five residents, five council officers, three police officers and three local councillors.