The Upper Calder Valley played host to the Environment Minister Dan Rogerson, as he met with people in the community to discuss flooding.
More than 1,000 homes and businesses were damaged during the unprecedented floods in 2012 and 2013 and over the past two years, the communities have been working together to reduce the risk and impact of future incidents.
The Minister met with community groups, including representatives from the Mytholmroyd Flood Group, the Leader of Calderdale Council and other councillors to visit Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge.The visit started at the flood store in Mytholmroyd - that stocks emergency supplies - and continued onto the Dusty Miller bar, hotel and restaurant to meet with landlady Anne Downie, who discussed her experience in 2012.
“Within just half an hour the whole ground floor of the pub was destroyed. We lost everything.
“People in the community were marvellous and helped us with the clean up, but we were out of business for about six and a half months.
“We now have flood defences thanks to a grant from Calderdale Council; we also have plans in place for dealing with future flooding, and business is picking up, but it’s frightening that we could be flooded again and unfortunately we don’t have flood insurance because the excess is so high.”
Mr Rogerson discussed the Calderdale Pathfinder Project, a Defra funded initiative. The project means that 1,000 people will be protected from flood risk as volunteers monitor river and lake water levels so that they can be drained safely to avoid flooding.
Around £310,000 was contributed by Defra to the project, with a further £215,000 raised through partnership funding.
Environment Minister, Dan Rogerson, said: “We are spending £3.2 billion on flood management and defences over the course of this parliament. This Defra funded flood resilience project will make a real difference to the local community in Calderdale. It is a great example of how a community can work together to improve flood protection and resilience.
“Flooding can have a devastating impact on communities and businesses across the country and I would urge people to assess their flood risk ahead of this winter and take any necessary steps, however big or small, to help protect their homes and businesses where necessary.”
Mr Rogerson then went onto the Hebden Bridge Town Hall to talk to businesses, residents, councillors and other representatives that had been affected by the flooding and heard first-hand accounts of their experiences.
Calderdale Council’s leader Stephen Baines, said: “I’m pleased that the Environment Minister visited the Upper Calder Valley. It was a valuable opportunity for him to experience first-hand the amazing community spirit, can-do attitude and resilience of residents and businesses. It was great to highlight the work that has already been done by the council, other organisations and community groups to improve our flood defences and make our communities more prepared. But it was also important to emphasise that there is still a lot more to be done, and that we face major challenges in meeting the sheer scale of the costs already incurred – and to be incurred – for long-term flood prevention and reduction works.”
Coun Steve Sweeney, who is a member of the Yorkshire Region Flood group and Chairs the West Yorkshire group, said “The work needed to reduce the flood risk to the upper valley over the next few years is going to cost many millions and at current estimates there is, approximately, a £13m shortfall. It is essential work to protect homes and enable growth in the local economy.”
In his role as a Todmorden ward councillor, Coun Sweeney said Mr Rogerson’s visit to Calderdale had totally ignored Todmorden in spite of the vast majority of flooded properties in Calderdale being in the Town.
Coun Sweeney said local Labour councillors who queried the omission were told by a Ministerial aide that his failure to visit the town was due to difficulties of timing and that “no snub was intended”.