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Flood cash is just a drop in the ocean, warns Cotswold Council Leader

The extra £330,000 flood recovery grant awarded to Cotswold District Council by the Government is not enough to meet the District’s needs, Council Leader Cllr Lynden Stowe has warned.

Cllr Stowe spoke out following a meeting of Council today (July 29th) which unanimously supported a motion calling on the Secretary of State to ensure that CDC is adequately funded to continue its leadership role in helping the District recover from the events of July 2007.

He said: “While the money is most welcome, it’s just a drop in the ocean against what needs to be spent on increasing resilience against future flooding.

“We need substantially more if we and our partners are to do all the work that’s required across our large rural district.”

The grant, from the Government’s £30.6m Restoration Fund, brings the total awarded to CDC in the wake of the July 2007 floods to £993,500.

Cllr Stowe called on Flood Recovery Minister John Healey to explain the criteria used to allocate the Fund between flood-hit councils across the country.

“Cotswold has only been awarded £330,000 while Cheltenham Borough Council is to get £1.7m,” said Cllr Stowe. “Similarly, Kingston-upon-Hull City Council has received £7.5m while Gloucestershire County Council has been awarded just £1.5m.

“Both CDC and the County Council are excellent examples of local authorities who have worked extremely hard on a planned approach to recovery from the events of last July.

“CDC has  made it clear that there can be no quick fixes and has drawn up a detailed programme of improvements and repairs needed to land drainage that could be carried out in the 20 most affected towns and villages  - either by riparian owners, the Environment Agency, County Council, District Council or water authorities, working alone or in partnership.

“But we simply don’t have the necessary funds to facilitate everything that could be done to reduce the impact should the unprecedented events of July 2007 ever be repeated.

“The Government needs to channel more money into this work and must release funding much more quickly to the Environment Agency if we are to see more action on the ground.

“I have demanded answers from Mr Healey as to just how the Restoration Fund was allocated to each council. I firmly believe the people of the Cotswolds deserve more.”

Cotswold was one of the worst-affected Districts in the county during the 2007 emergency: around 1,150 homes and businesses in 79 towns and villages suffered flooding.

The initial £663,500 awarded to CDC in Flood Recovery Grant is being used to help individuals, fund strategic land drainage improvements and build community resilience through town and parish grants.

The motion carried by Council today calls on the Secretary of State to ensure that CDC is adequately funded to continue its leadership role in flood recovery.

The motion, proposed by Cllr Sue Jepson and seconded by Cllr Clive Bennett, asks the Minister to immediately implement the recommendations of Sir Michael Pitt’s review of the 2007 emergency.

Council agreed write to the Secretary of State making the following points contained in the motion:

•    On the first anniversary of the 2007 floods, there are still 104 households in the District unable to return to their homes due to flood damage; and there are many thousands of residents living in fear each time it rains.

•    The people of the Cotswolds have shown great courage and community spirit in the last year and CDC has acted promptly and uniquely in commissioning a full report (the Hyder Report) to identify solutions across the District. This has enabled work to start on several locations in partnership with the County Council and other agencies.

•    Funds are urgently required to continue this work and we call on the Secretary of State to immediately implement the recommendations of the Pitt Report, commissioned by his own Department, and ensure CDC is adequately funded to continue its leadership role in flood recovery.

Source: Cotswold District Council

Related news articles:
Grants given out by Cotswold District Council to help with future emergency planning
Gloucestershire Council tax - Cabinet recommends extra investment in flooding
Gloucestershire Road Repair Funds start Flooding In
Sporting boost for young flood victims from Cotswold District Council
Back to the business of fitness at Cotswold Leisure Centre
The report on flooding in Chipping Campden, 20/21 July 2007

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