Calderdale Council faces £20m bill after Christmas floods

Boxing day flood in Hebden Bridge. Lloyds Bank an island in Albert Street.
Boxing day flood in Hebden Bridge. Lloyds Bank an island in Albert Street.

The true scale of the damage inflicted on Yorkshire by the Christmas floods has started to emerge as Calderdale Council revealed it is facing a £20m bill.

The costs reflect damage to roads, bridges, walls and other infrastructure which are not covered by insurance or Government support schemes.

Seven schools in the district were affected by the flooding but the costs of the damage are still being assessed although they will be at least £1.5m.

The figures emerged as Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill, the Government’s flood envoy for Yorkshire, visited Tadcaster where the Government has promised £3.3m to help repair the town’s 300-year-old bridge, which partially collapsed.

Some costs of Calderdale Council’s emergency response to the floods will be covered by the Government but the authority will still have to pay the first £317,000.

It will also have to pay the £450,000 excess on its insurance claim for damage to council buildings and vehicles which will run to more than £2m.

A flood commission is now being set up in the borough to look at whether flood defences can be strengthened.

Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift said: “Calderdale has been one of the worst hit areas for infrastructure damage as a result of the floods that hit the region on Boxing Day.

“There has been significant damage to a number of bridges in the borough, including the partial collapse and resulting closure of Elland bridge, as well as the collapse of three other bridges and one footway in the borough.

“In addition to this, there have been a number of landslips, one of which occurred on the major A646 road in Mytholmroyd which links Calderdale with Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

“This road is now only passable as a single carriageway, managed by traffic lights.

“Scout Road near Mytholmroyd has also suffered a landslip and has been closed, with 17 properties evacuated. Canal towpaths and cycle routes have also collapsed and will need significant repairs.

“Sites are still being monitored, and individual costs are yet to be determined.

“However the projected costs for all the repairs that are needed on roads and structures damaged by the floods is likely to be at least £20m.”

The Government operates a system known as the Bellwin scheme that allows councils to claim for the immediate costs of dealing with flooding such as evacuating people and hiring extra equipment.

But that does not cover items insured by the council or anything beyond emergency repairs to infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

Following the last major floods to hit Calderdale in July 2012, the authority was hit by costs of around £2.5m but only received £77,000 through the Bellwin scheme.

A report considered by senior councillors last night warned that “significant financial support is needed from central and regional funds” to recover from the economic impact of the flooding.

Yorkshire is set to be hit by further harsh weather this week but forecasters expect it to be cold and occasionally foggy rather than wet.

Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing overnight with some flurries of snow on higher ground.