Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has written to Environment Secretary Michael Gove to demand action after heavy rains triggered fresh flood fears down the Kirkstall Valley over the weekend.
As reported by the Dispatch, serious flood warnings were issued at Kirkstall Forge while a flood alert for the whole of the Middle River Aire catchment area – which includes Kirkstall and Burley – was also issued.
The beer garden at Kirkstall Bridge Inn was also flooded (pictured above).
Ms Reeves has called on Mr Gove to tell Chancellor Philip Hammond that funding full flood defences for Leeds must be a top priority in the Chancellor’s upcoming Spending Review that he promised in his Spring Statement.
Her calls come more than three years after the catastrophic Boxing Day floods in 2015 that hit the city and wider region as part of Storm Eva, causing millions of pounds of damage.
In her letter to Mr Gove, Ms Reeves said:
“In the past few days, Kirkstall in my constituency and other areas were again hit by heavy rains that left many people wondering if they were on the brink of being flooded.
“It was a near miss that gave many people sleepless nights – something that they are being forced to endure repeatedly as a result of Government inaction.
“More than three years on from Storm Eva, it appears the Government is still refusing to provide Leeds with the promised level of flood protection required to keep people and businesses safe.”
She added in the letter to the Environment Secretary:
“I would urge you to impress upon the Chancellor the vital importance that Leeds gets full flood defences as quickly as possible.
“Businesses and households in Leeds cannot afford any further delays. The absence of flood defences is literally keeping people awake at night every time there is heavy rain. That has to end.
“They should not be forced to wait until they are knee-deep in water trying to rescue their businesses or possessions before Government action and funding is forthcoming.”
Earlier this month, the owner of the Cardigan Business Centre next to the River Aire said any delays in installing flood defences along Kirkstall Road could result in more businesses leaving the area.
Plans for flood defences along the Kirkstall Valley and beyond – which feature measures such as new defence walls, embankments and a large flood storage area – can be viewed here.
Council chiefs last year announced the city’s proposal to proceed with a “pragmatic two-step solution” to provide flood protection measures for parts of West Leeds. This comes after the government said it was unable to offer funding above £65m towards the scheme which, when completed, would give one in 200-year protection against flooding.
Works is due to begin later this year to deliver an initial one-in-100-year level of protection.
This will then be upgraded to the full one-in-200-year level with a further phase of work after the remainder of the funding has been secured.
Ms Reeves’ letter can be read in full here: DEFRA letter
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