Flood Defences (Leeds)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 27th January 2016.

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Photo of Rachel Reeves Rachel Reeves Labour, Leeds West 7:15 pm, 27th January 2016

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend, whose constituency has also been devastated by the floods.

The point is that important infrastructure sites such as the Vodafone site off Kirkstall Road and the power substation on Redcote Lane were not protected and were badly damaged on Boxing day. In Kirkstall, in my constituency, the consequences for the local economy of having no investment in flood defences is devastating. Businesses will leave, and new businesses will not come. We risk creating ghost towns if we take no action.

Last week, I and my fellow Leeds MPs—all eight of us—along with Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake and the council chief executive Tom Riordan, met the Secretary of State to ask for the reinstatement of the flood defence scheme in Leeds. We welcomed her by saying that further flood protection for Leeds was a priority for the Government, but we were disappointed that no firm commitment was made to provide funding—not even the £3 million required to commence urgent design and preparatory work for flood defences over and above phase 1. We need that money for flood defences if we are to turn her commitment into a reality. I fully appreciate the budgetary challenges relating to flood defences, but we must all acknowledge the significance of the flooding arising from Storm Eva and the significant economic risk that the city of Leeds, and thus the UK economy, will therefore face without adequate investment in flood defences.