Leeds MPs and council chiefs are to hold urgent talks at Westminster tomorrow (Wednesday) to demand action to protect the city from a repeat of the 2015 floods.
The meeting with with Floods Minister Therese Coffey comes amid mounting fears that the Government is set to backtrack on its pledge to properly protect Leeds from a repeat of the devastating Boxing Day floods which caused so much damage in the Kirkstall and Kirkstall Road area three years ago.
MPs and council leaders are concerned that the Environment Agency’s plans for proposed flood defences for Leeds fall “woefully short” of what is needed to protect the city.
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves said:
“The flood defences that the Government are now proposing would not have protected businesses and homes in Leeds against the catastrophic floods we endured in December 2015.
“The Government and the Environment Agency must not dither or delay. They need to get on with ensuring that Leeds is properly protected.
“Our group of MPs and council leaders will be hammering home the point to the Floods Minister that they could be putting lives and businesses at risk unless they act quickly and put in place the flood defences we desperately need.”
Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“Leeds City Council has done what it was asked to do by the Government and has developed a proposal that will give the city the protection it needs and deserves.
“Now it’s time for Ministers to honour promises made in the aftermath of the devastating floods and to find the funding to implement our proposed scheme in full. People who suffered the devastation and misery of a flooded home or who lost their job due to a flood hit business closure would expect nothing less.”
Earlier this year the Environment Agency rejected Leeds City Council’s preferred plan which would have provided once-in-200-year flood protection to Kirkstall and surrounding communities; defending the area against the level of flooding caused by the 2015 Boxing Day Floods.
Instead, the Environment Agency’s proposed scheme offers only a one-in-75-year level of protection. This is £18 million short of what is needed to properly defend the area.
Adrian Gill, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said last month the body was “fully committed” to cutting flood risks. He said:
“We have recently written to Leeds City Council to confirm our review of their Outline Business Case and will continue to work with them to secure the best possible scheme for Leeds.”
Expected attendees at Wednesday’s meeting include:
Rachel Reeves – Member of Parliament for Leeds West (Labour)
Stuart Andrew – Member of Parliament for Pudsey (Conservative)
Hilary Benn – Member of Parliament for Leeds Central (Labour)
Alec Shelbrooke – Member of Parliament for Elmet and Rothwell (Conservative)
Fabian Hamilton – Member of Parliament for Leeds North East (Labour)
Alex Sobel – Member of Parliament for Leeds North West (Labour)
Richard Burgon – Member of Parliament for Leeds East (Labour)
Councillor Judith Blake CBE, Leader of Leeds City Council (Labour)
Councillor Andrew Carter CBE, Leader of the Conservative Group and Calverley and Farsley councillor (Conservative)
Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council
Gary Bartlett, Chief Highways Officer
Richard Dennis, Civil Engineering Manager – Flood Programme