Corbyn Backs Bid for Leeds Flood Defences

During his recent visit to Leeds, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn voiced his support for efforts by local MPs and councillors to convince the UK government to supply funding to complete flood defences in Leeds.

On Boxing Day 2015, floods caused by Storm Eva damaged over 3,000 homes and more than 700 businesses in Leeds.  The UK government pledged to fund the construction of flood defences for the city, to prevent such a natural disaster from occurring again.  However, Parliament has reportedly provided insufficient funds for the project. The Labour Party has claimed that the government has provided funding for flood defences against a once-in-75-year flood rather than for defences against a once-in-200-year flood, as was originally promised.

On the 4th of October, Jeremy Corbyn visited businesses that had been affected by the flooding. His first visit was to the Climbing Lab, which had sustained £30,000 in damages during the floods.  During his visit, Corbyn met with one of the Climbing Lab’s owners, Hannah Mason. Mason told Corbyn, “I have no doubt that we will flood again. I’m creating a business that I want to be successful, but at the same time there is this threat that could wipe it all out.”

Unless the Government now funds the next stage of flood protection for Leeds then there are going to be problems ahead…

At the Climbing Lab, Jeremy Corbyn said that the UK government should “cough up”  the necessary funds and fulfill its pledge to the people of Leeds. He told reporters: “I was in this very place in December 2015, when it was being flooded, and the volunteers were amazing, the community support was fantastic.  Unless the Government now funds the next stage of flood protection for Leeds then there are going to be problems ahead… Here we are now nearly three years on, and it still hasn’t happened.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)  stated: “We remain committed to better protect Leeds from flooding. We have already spent £33 million and have committed a further £35m between now and 2021 to better protect properties and businesses in Leeds. The Environmental Agency continues to work closely with the City Council to find the best way forward to protect the city from flooding.  (Floods) Minister Coffey will be meeting local Rachel Reeves MP later this month to discuss the situation further.”

Nikita Zychowicz

Image: [Getty Images]