HOPES that a massive upgrade of York flood defences can still go ahead despite Government cuts have been given a boost.

York council leader Andrew Waller has revealed that £310,000 is set to be earmarked from a local authority levy towards the strengthening of embankments which protect hundreds of homes in the Leeman Road area.

The money would be on top of a million pounds already allocated by City of York Council towards the project, and Coun Waller says it improves the scheme’s chances of receiving Government partnership funding – particularly if the overall costs of the scheme can also be driven down.

The defences came close to being overtopped by water from the River Ouse during the floods of November 2000, putting about 550 homes at risk, and the Environment Agency fears flooding risks will increase through the 21st century because of climate change.

The agency drew up plans for a £6.5 million scheme to raise and strengthen the embankments and, having held a public consultation last year, it intended to carry out preparatory work in the coming financial year before starting on construction work in 2012/13.

But earlier this year, agency bosses confirmed the project had fallen victim to Government cuts in public spending.

Coun Waller, who was himself one of hundreds of residents evacuated from their homes in 2000 and who is York’s representative on the Yorkshire Flood Defence Committee, said it was now likely to receive funding from levy money paid into a kitty by local authorities across the region.