YORK council leader Keith Aspden says work on new flood defences must be speeded up and more money must be invested in the city by the Government.

The Liberal Democrat councillor has written to Environment Secretary George Eustice to call for urgent investment in the city’s flood defences before the next major flooding incident occurs.

His letter comes as the council begins a clean-up operation in York after the floods caused by Storm Dennis, with front line teams sweeping and cleaning paths and cycle routes.

Cllr Aspden said York remained "vibrant and exciting as usual," offering lots of activities and events for residents and visitors over this half-term, and the city was very much open for business.

He urged the Government to release significant funding to "high risk" local authorities to install the latest flood prevention technology across the city, protecting all communities.

He said: “It is less than 100 days since the Prime Minister declared that flooding in our region was not a national emergency, yet, it is clear to see that serious flooding and extreme weather conditions are an emergency for residents of York.

“It makes you question with the events we have seen across Yorkshire, that if this was an emergency that had occurred in or near London, the available funding would have been greater. This should absolutely not be the case.”

He called for the Government to identify new schemes to reduce the impact of flooding by managing, or slowing, the flow at the source of the flood.

Meanwhile, the Government has announced that flood-hit homes and businesses can apply for up to £5,000 to help make them more resilient to future flooding

It said flood-hit households in affected areas could apply for up to £500 in financial hardship payments to give cash quickly to those in short-term need.

Households and businesses significantly affected by recent flooding would be eligible for 100 per cent council tax and business rates relief for at least three months, and small-to-medium sized businesses in affected areas which had suffered severe, uninsurable losses would be eligible for up to £2,500 from the Business Recovery Grant.

Mr Eustice said: “We know climate change means extreme weather events like this are more likely, and are already investing £2.6 billion in flood defences by 2021, with over 600 projects already protecting 200,000 properties.

“This crucial funding will help people to make their homes more resilient and better protected if flooding happens again.”