Government must do more to help council with storm costs, says LGA

17 Jan 14
Councils have urged Whitehall to set up a highway maintenance emergency fund following this winter’s bout of extreme winter storms and flooding.

The Local Government Association said councils should not be left to fund repairs that are likely to run into the hundreds of millions of pounds after highways and coastal defences were destroyed. It noted that an emergency fund to help affected local authorities with unforeseen capital costs was set up in 2007 following the severe floods that hit England that summer.

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.’

He added that the Bellwin Scheme, which reimburses councils affected by flooding and other weather events, was ‘severely limited’ as it does not cover most capital costs.

‘Local communities and local economies need to recover as quickly as possible,’ said Jones.

‘This can only be achieved through extra government cash which covers repairs excluded from the Bellwin Scheme.’

Case studies cited by the LGA included North Norfolk District Council, which is bracing itself for a repair bill of over £3m, of which only around half will be recoverable from insurers. It will therefore have to dip into its reserves.

Pembrokeshire Council has estimated initial storm damage costs of £500,000, including the cost of repairing the A487 and a 40 metre stretch of sea wall.

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