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Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves: Where are our flood defences?

Where are our flood defences? That was the question Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves today asked the government in the House of Commons.

Ms Reeves said that the government had still not agreed to invest in the flood defences – more than two years after the Boxing Day floods which devastated Kirkstall, Burley and Leeds city centre.

And she said her requests for a meeting with the Government to discuss the importance of the new flood defences had gone unanswered.

Kirkstall Road floods Leeds
Devastating: Kirkstall Road was flooded in 2015. PHOTO: Lizzie Coombes/@bettylawless

During Treasury Questions in the House of Commons, Ms Reeves pointed out that Kirkstall is no better protected from floods today than it was on Boxing Day 2015 – and demanded to know when the Government would agree to stump up the cash to protect Leeds from ever suffering again like it did in December 2015.

Ms Reeves has raised the issue directly with the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond. who committed to investigating the funding of the floods alleviation scheme and promised to write to her with a full response to the issues she raised. Mr Hammond added:

“Some of the response projects are major engineering projects which take time to develop and of course Defra and the Environment Agency have funding for flood defence projects but these have to be prioritised and worked into specific business cases.”

In a press statement afterwards, Ms Reeves said:

“Two years and two months after Leeds was hit by devastating floods, the Government has still not agreed to invest in flood defences that would keep our city safe.

“My letters to Ministers and requests for meetings have all gone unanswered and West Leeds is no better prepared for floods than it was on Boxing Day 2015. That is just not good enough.

“People who live and work in Leeds deserve to feel secure, so today I asked the Chancellor where the money is and when the Government will finally give Leeds the investment we need to protect us from future flooding.”

Last month Ms Reeves spearheaded a group of political and business leaders in Leeds, who joined forces to seek an urgent meeting with the Government ahead of a major decision due on the future of flood defences in the city.

The group emphasised that the proposed Phase Two of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme would reduce the risk of the city being hit by serious physical and economic flood damage to a 1/200 year event, while also encouraging investment and creating more than 1600 jobs.


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