Apply for flood grant, urges councillor

The new flood defence wall alongside Skipton Road in Barnoldswick. Pic: David Whipp
The new flood defence wall alongside Skipton Road in Barnoldswick. Pic: David Whipp

A Pendle councillor has expressed frustration that those affected by flash flooding in Earby last month will not qualify for grant funding.

Coun. David Whipp says he has written to the Secretary of State and Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, without success, to try and change their stance on flood resilience grants worth up to £5,000 each.

Mr Stephenson, however, says the government has never provided grants for localised flash flooding events such as that which occurred on September 13th when a number of properties in Earby flooded after a thunderstorm.

Instead, it is hoped a total of between £12,000 and £13,000 can be agreed through Pendle Council’s West Craven Committee with match funding from the Executive to carry out small scale work to reduce flood risk on qualifying properties.

Coun. Whipp is also urging eligible residents affected by the Boxing Day floods who are at risk of flooding to take up flood resilience grants to help protect their property.

This follows a report by the Association of British Insurers which says many householders in flood risk areas have failed to install basic protection.

In Pendle, Coun. Whipp believes that fewer than a quarter of eligible residential properties had signed up prior to a roadshow event in Earby, although the number of businesses was higher.

Coun. Whipp said: “Locally, we’ve only had a small proportion of householders eligible for flood resilience grants following Boxing Day flooding actually apply for them.

“Our roadshow event in Earby last month saw an increase in interest, but there’s still a long way to go. I’m urging eligible residents to ask for assistance before the deadline for applications, which is Boxing Day this year.

“The national report stresses the importance of property level flood defence and there’s a lot of discussion about the responsibility of different sectors – insurance, councils or government – in ensuring property level work is being carried out.

“But here in Pendle we have scores of householders who can claim up to £5,000 for such work from grants.

“Regrettably, the government is refusing to extend this scheme to those affected in September’s floods, but I have managed to get a glimmer of hope for these residents.

“Pendle Council’s West Craven Committee has agreed to allocate funding and this will be matched with money from Pendle’s central pot. This will allow some property level protection to be carried out to these properties.

“Those affected by flooding in Pendle can find out more about flood resilience grants by emailing floodsupport@pendle.gov.uk or phoning 01282 661017.”

Mr Stephenson said: “Having spoken to the flooding minister and senior officials, the day after this happened, I can confirm that the government has never provided flood grants for localise flash flooding of the type experienced in Earby on September 13th.

“To do so every time something like this happened across the UK could potentially cost hundreds of millions of pounds.

“It is up to local councils, like Pendle Council, who have over £8m. in cash reserves, to decide if they wish to provide local people in Earby with grants.

“I find it deeply regrettable that while Pendle Council is currently spending £1.5m. on a building in Nelson, they can’t even find £100,000 to help people in Earby whose homes have been destroyed.

“It is disgusting that the Liberal Democrats are choosing to play party politics with this issue, while letting down the people of Earby.”

Meanwhile in Barnoldswick, the flood wall alongside Skipton Road which was funded by Barnoldswick Town Council and from the Pendle Council capital investment allocation for Barnoldswick, has been completed.

Coun. Whipp has expressed delight at two further flooding fronts on schemes for the town.

He said: “The town council has secured a grant from the Community Foundation for Lancashire of £10,000 for flood fighting equipment (sandbags etc). The grant also covers the cost of getting somewhere to store sandbags.

“The town council will be buying a shipping container for this and intends placing this on land at the lorry park on West Close Road. All being well, this should be done by next month.

“Hopefully, it’ll be many years before the equipment needs to be used - but the store will provide an immediate supply of sandbags accessible 24/7 in case of emergency.

“The other good news is that through Pendle Council, we have succeeded in a bid for Environment Agency funding to carry out investigations into the feasibility of carrying out a major flood relief scheme at Ghyll Meadows.

“The £24,000 of funding will pay for experts to check if our idea of increasing the capacity of the culvert beneath the estate stacks up from both flooding and financial angles.

“If this preliminary study gives us a green light, Pendle Council will apply to the EA for the several hundreds of thousands of pounds that the scheme is likely to cost. If everything was favourable, it could be possible to get major work underway in less than a year.

“The proposal would be to install a larger culvert underneath Valley Drive and link up with the length of culvert we improved 15 years ago on Meadow Way.

“This would remove the bottleneck that prevents water getting away from upstream of Skipton Road as fast as it can.

“Fingers crossed that the investigations being carried out show the scheme to be feasible and affordable!”