Rachel Reeves calls on finance chiefs to fund flood defences to protect Leeds

10 September 2019

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has written to Conservative and Labour finance chiefs urging them to commit to fully funding planned flood defences to protect Kirkstall and Burley.

Writing to the Chancellor, Sajid Javid and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Ms Reeves has called on the leadership of the two major political parties to deliver the protection the city needs by investing in Phase Two of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.

Almost four years ago on Boxing Day 2015, devastating floods struck Kirkstall and Burley in Ms Reeves’ Leeds West constituency as a result of Storm Eva.

More than 2,600 residential and 700 commercial buildings were damaged. Some businesses needed to relocate, and others were forced to permanently cease trading.

In the immediate aftermath of that flooding, the Government promised that Leeds would soon have one of the ‘most resilient flood defence programmes in the country’.

But almost four years on, Ms Reeves said Kirkstall is still no better protected from flooding today than it was in 2015.

Ms Reeves argues that provide protection from the flooding seen in 2015, a flood defence scheme capable of providing a 1-in-200-year level of protection is required. 

Leeds City Council has devised Phase Two of its Flood Alleviation Scheme to provide this degree of protection, and the Government has committed to spending £65 million on this project, with a total of £86.8 million in funding secured.

However, this figure falls £25.3 million short of the £112.1 million required to provide the city with the protection it needs. 

Ms Reeves has long been calling on the Government to plug the gap as a matter of urgency – and stepped up the campaign with her call for action and a firm commitment from both the Conservative and Labour Treasury teams to plugging the cash shortfall. 

Ms Reeves said: 

“Almost four years ago, the Government promised they would keep Leeds residents safe from flooding. 

“The Government should now honour the pledge it made to the people of Leeds by providing that funding as a matter of urgency.

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danny bailey says:

why don’t Leeds city council spend some of the tens of millions of pounds that they waste on pointless cycle lanes to boost the flood defences?