1 March 2017
For some parts of the country the devastating Boxing Day floods of 2015 may be a distant memory. But for many across the North West in towns like Rochdale, the recovery is still ongoing. Local businesses were hit particularly hard, with losses in stock and trade and in some cases closure of their premises. There is a real fear that future floods and the rising cost of insurance in high-risk areas will force more businesses to close or relocate.
Simon Danczuk has delivered a speech in Parliament on the devastating impact that the floods had, outlining the importance of proper Government funding to prevent future disasters for towns like Rochdale.
Simon said: "It is clear that real protection from flooding must be delivered. This means preventing flooding in the first place".
The River Roch flows through the centre of Rochdale, and is the main source of flooding in the town. In November 2016, more heavy rainfall hit Rochdale. Fortunately, far fewer people were affected than in the previous year's floods. Nevertheless, Rochdale Council, under he direction of council leader Richard Farnell, were quick to provide emergency funds to residents and undertake an extensive clean-up operation.
Simon said: "I am pleased that Rochdale Council and the regional flood and coastal committee are committed to managing and reducing flood risks caused by the river. They both want to see a successful flood alleviation project delivered as soon as possible, and have worked closely with the Environment Agency to put together a plan for the borough". Rochdale Council has council has contributed towards a £7 million budget to protect 800 homes and 400 businesses.
Simon congratulated Rochdale Council in their completion of rive defences in the town centre and at Calderbrook, but warned the Government that more needs to be done: "I am somewhat dismayed that rather than offering financial support, DEFRA (Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs) has asked me to find further partnership funding. Rochdale Council has worked extensively with the Environment Agency to maximise partnership funding, and I am sure that such efforts will continue, but I believe that such an urgent scheme as the one in Rochdale should be eligible for more central Government funding".
Last year, many in Rochdale had anticipated extra funding to tackle the risk of flooding but were left bitterly disappointed when no such help was offered in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.
Flooding can have a hugely damaging effect on people's lives, not just financially but emotionally, as people naturally have connections not just to their treasured belongings but also their homes, local shops and the wider community has a whole. Therefore it is essential that the Government puts momentum behind future flood defence schemes in order to protect us from the ravages of flooding.
Theresa Coffey, Minister for Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs, responded: "I listened carefully to what the hon. member for Rochdale said and I will follow up on the issues he raised".