Flood repair bill 'threatens economic recovery'

Published on Friday, 17 January 2014 09:41
Written by Govtoday staff

Councils are calling for the government to help cover the repair bill estimated to run into hundreds of millions of pounds following the extreme weather this winter.

The Local Government Association is calling for the Department for Transport to create a highways maintenance emergency fund following the recent spate of heavy rain and flooding.

The severe weather has left behind a trail of destruction to coastal defences and infrastructure and caused further damage to our already dilapidated highways.

A similar fund was created following similar severe flooding in 2007 and was designed to help affected local authorities with capital funding for emergency and unforeseeable capital works to their local roads network.

The LGA is warning that vital investment in local growth and infrastructure projects could suffer if government does not step in to ease the cost of flood repairs.

Councillor Mike Jones, chair of the LGA's environment and housing board, said: "Councils have worked round-the-clock since the bad weather began last month to protect residents and minimise disruption and will continue to help those who remain affected by flooding.

"The severe weather has left behind a daunting trail of destruction for councils to clear-up and fix. We were already facing a £10.5bn repair backlog to bring our highways up to scratch and the damage to our roads by this recent flooding will be considerable and costly.

"While we are pleased the Bellwin Scheme will be activated, the fact remains that Bellwin is severely limited as it does not cover most capital costs. An emergency highways maintenance fund would provide essential support to those councils who now face hefty and unexpected repair bills as a result of the flooding.

"These bills are likely to place significant financial pressures on already stretched council finances and it is vital that local communities are not left to suffer as a result. "Local communities and local economies need to recover as quickly as possible. This can only be achieved through extra government cash which covers repairs excluded from the Bellwin Scheme."

Source: LGA

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