Preventing the devastating floods which hit Rotherham last November from ever happening again cannot be allowed to drop off the Government’s agenda, Council Leader Chris Read has said today.
Councillor Read joined Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis, the borough's three MPs and fellow South Yorkshire Council Leaders in calling on the Government to back a £270m flood defence package for the region during a flood summit with George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rebecca Pow, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and DEFRA officials yesterday.
Last November’s floods saw 48 families evacuated from their homes in Rotherham, with almost a third still unable to return due to the extent of the damage. Hundreds of businesses were left underwater and the borough’s transport network was left crippled with major roads and the town’s railway station closed for several days.
And Kilnhurst Primary School, which also suffered flooding in 2007 was devastated again in 2019 to such an extent that it will only reopen again to pupils after the Christmas holidays – more than a year after the storms.
Following the summit, Councillor Read said: “The Council, the businesses and the people of Rotherham certainly haven’t forgotten the suffering caused by last November’s floods and we need to ensure the Government isn’t allowed to forget either.
“The Council has delivered 40 small scale flood alleviation schemes since November 2019 at locations across the borough to reduce the flood risk to roads, residential and commercial properties - but we know that is just a sticking plaster compared to the major investment that is required to properly protect our borough.
“We’ve worked with neighbouring Councils and the City Region to devise a comprehensive South Yorkshire programme which would see around £271 million of investment in 27 separate schemes. This is essential if we are going to be able to protect homes and support economic infrastructure and businesses across Rotherham in the future.
“We’re grateful for the Ministers time and that they have been prepared to listen, but this has to be backed up with action and funding for these schemes. Without it, a repeat of the flooding seen in November 2019 is inevitable.”
The regional flood defence investment programme was submitted to the Secretary of State on the 24th February 2020 and whilst a response was received, it makes no firm commitment to fully fund the schemes.
The Rotherham schemes included in the programme would cost £52m in total and include the following projects:
- Eel Mires Dike at Laughton Common, Dinnington
- Rotherham Renaissance Flood Alleviation Programme for the Town Centre & Parkgate
- Whiston Brook, Whiston
- Catcliffe Pumping Station
- Kilnhurst for business and the primary school at Kilnhurst
- Parkgate & Rawmarsh alleviation works
- A633/A6123 Highways Resilience Works
- A comprehensive Culverts Renewal Programme across the Borough to prevent surface water flooding
It is estimated that these eight projects would protect at least 128 homes, 349 businesses and transport infrastructure currently at risk from flooding.