AN appeal by North Yorkshire council chiefs for extra Government cash to help pay for flooding repairs after the September downpours has failed.
The Press reported this week how North Yorkshire County Council had written to the Department for Transport requesting additional financial support to fix roads and bridges which were damaged when heavy autumn rain caused chaos across the region.
But the authority has now been told this will not be possible, while it has also learned it will not receive any money through the Government’s Bellwin scheme – designed to help councils with the unexpected costs of dealing with and cleaning up after emergencies – to replace a bridge which was wrecked at Scawton, near Richmond.
The council, which already has to save £69 million to balance its books and may also face a further £22 million of cuts over the next two years, will now have to meet the £1.8 million bill caused by the flooding, which officials have said led to “significant damage”, itself.
Gary Fielding, the authority’s corporate director for strategic resources, said: “We wrote to the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) asking that they activate the Bellwin scheme. Unfortunately, the scheme is restrictive and does not help to meet the costs of capital [which includes infrastructure work on roads and bridges], so the bridge which was swept away at Scawton and which will cost us £600,000 is not eligible. The CLG has declined any flexibility and has not activated Bellwin in any case.
“We also wrote to the Department for Transport asking for help with funding capital items to deal with flooding damage, and they too have declined. The county council is now working on the basis that it will have to meet the full £1.8 million cost of the flood damage from its own budget.”
Mr Fielding said the flooding bill would be an “additional and unexpected burden” on the council’s coffers, saying: “It will place us under further financial pressure as we are already facing to have to find an additional £22 million in savings on top of the £69 million we are already making.”
The issue is set to be discussed when the county council’s executive meets next week.