Rachel Reeves accuses Chancellor of “insult” to West Leeds by failing to fund flood defences

6 September 2019

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has accused Chancellor Sajid Javid of an “insult” to the people of Leeds by failing to fund urgently needed flood defences in his spending round. 

Ms Reeves said residents and businesses in the Kirkstall and Burley areas are no better protected now than they were at the time of the devastating Boxing Day floods of 2015.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves

The Leeds West MP says only a one-in-200 year level of protection would defend Kirkstall from the flooding seen in 2015. The Government has committed £65m in funding towards a scheme that would defend against a onje in 100 year event..

The lack of Government commitment means there is a £25.3m shortfall, leaving Leeds City Council to find other sources of funding.

Ms Reeves said: 

“It will be a bitter blow to people and businesses in Leeds and across Yorkshire that the Chancellor has ignored all the calls to urgently improve local flood defences in his latest spending plans. 

“This failure to come up with the funds flies in the face of previous assurances from ministers that we should wait for the Chancellor’s funding review for the promised extra funds. 

“This winter it will be four years since the floods and yet the Government has still failed to fund the flood defences we need to protect our city and our communities in Burley and Kirkstall. It is an insult to the people of Leeds from Boris Johnson and this Tory government. 

“With winter around the corner, people will be understandably worried about the risk of future floods.   This spending review is far more about the Tories gearing up for a snap election and trying to extricate themselves from the chaos they have created over Brexit rather trying to help people who are still suffering the impact of almost a decade of Tory austerity. 

“I will continue to press the Government for proper flood protection for Leeds and a fair deal for the whole region.  But only a Labour government can deliver the real investment that our NHS, schools and transport systems desperately need.”

Ms Reeves wrote to Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers last month to urge her to prioritise the city’s flood alleviation scheme. 

In a letter to the Cabinet Minister, she said the Government had to end the “delay and dither” surrounding the funding of the scheme. 

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Mark Thackray says:

Dear Rachel
in a time when the country has been borrowing money to fund our habits and overspending, to prevent an event that occurs ever 70 years or more could be said to be a waste of money.
You should concentrate on getting us out of the EU as this would retain billions to be spent on our projects like this.
If you were really bothered about our local economy you would have done more to stop Thysen Krupt cutting with the cash of £30 million compensation and moving a 200 year old company to eastern europe.

Mark Thackray says:

Leeds City council would be able to fund projects like this through borrowing if they had not stupidly borrowed £180,000,000 to fund replacing sodium lights with sodium lights just before the roll out of self funding LED lighting that can be retrofitted to existing lamp posts.
Labour council and a Labour MP good with your money, and pinching a living of Leeds workers and tax payers

Richard Honey says:

Mark you may not have noticed but flooding is becoming less and less a ‘rare event’. This is the climate crisis. I’m concerned and angry about the hundreds of thousands of people across the country who have had homes and businesses ruined by the effects of flooding – some due to reckless building on flood plains but all affected by our changing climate. This is before we even get to thinking about the people affected by the storms in the Caribbean where whole islands are under threat. Now of all times we need urgent government action to address this crisis. I don’t want to spend another Christmas wading though flooded cellars helping out business on the Kirkstall Road just because we are not getting the proper support we need. Also now is not the time to be severing ourselves from the international co-operation we will need to manage and confront this crisis, all for the fiction that we will save billions by leaving the EU. Retreating into narrow nationalism at this point is actually to betray the true interests of the country. Rachel Reeves is to be applauded for holding the government’s feet to the fire over their woeful response to flooding, in support of her constituents.

Mark Thackray says:

Dear Richard Honey
You may have missed the fact that we are soon to have a general election and up pops Rachel Reeves. The wet weather comes and goes and we think it is bad and the first time it has ever happened when it does occur. I grew up at a house next to a beck and in 8 years our cellar flooded twice one of them times it came within 6 feet of the back door that was in the 1960’s. In that year one of my friends feel in and drowned the water was running that fast. The Ings in Keighley also flood regularly even though Keighleys flood plains are still there. When the flood defences have fallen into disrepair in another 70 years it will happen again.