MP working to get central government help for Dales communities hit by flash floods

Rishi Sunak with North Yorkshire County Council leader Cllr Carl Les last year talking to those who suffered flooding in Langthwaite.

Rishi Sunak says he is working on multiple fronts to help bring relief to Yorkshire Dales communities hit by last week’s flash flooding.

The Richmond MP is seeking to secure funds to cover the costs of rebuilding roads and bridges, to clear debris from choked becks, and for farmers to meet the costs of repairing walls and buildings, and disposing of dead stock and contaminated feed.

Mr Sunak says he is:

  • Talking to the Transport Minister about funds to help cover the North Yorkshire County Council’s costs – thought to be in the region of £3m – in carrying out emergency and then permanent bridge and road repairs.
  • Urging the Communities Secretary to activate the Bellwin Scheme – which reimburses councils for the costs of actions taken in the immediate first phase of an emergency to protect and safeguard lives and property
  • Speaking to the Farming Minister about a Farming Recovery Fund similar to the one set up in the aftermath of the 2015 floods in Cumbria to provide grants to cover short-term uninsured costs, such as restoring land to productive use, making fields stock-proof, and repairing tracks and flood channels.
  • Liaising with the Local Enterprise Partnership about diverting some of the funds it receives from central government to provide help for local businesses – particularly in the tourism sector.
  • Making sure existing schemes offering business rates relief and council tax relief to those affected operate effectively.

Mr Sunak has also re-located his Westminster office staff to the constituency to help individual constituents with their queries and provide support on specific issues like insurance.

He has also been in touch with two charities who have emergency grants available.

The Two Ridings Community Foundation is offering grants to affected residents (up to £300 available immediately) and RABI (The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution) has emergency grants for farmers affected.

RABI welfare officer John Basnett will be at Leyburn Auction Mart at noon on Wednesday with streamlined forms for affected farmers to submit claims for assistance.

A meeting of the local authorities and the Environment Agency this morning convened by Mr Sunak focussed on the problem at Grinton Beck where debris brought down by the flash-flooding has obstructed the beck. Some properties have been flooded a second time.

A plan has been agreed between the parties to start work as soon as possible to clear the debris.

Mr Sunak welcomed the start of work today by North Yorkshire County Council on a temporary bridge at Grinton Moor and the landslip on the B6270 at Cogden. These should be completed in a matter of weeks so restoring connections between Swaledale and Richmond/Leyburn.

Mr Sunak said: “In the two days I have spent in the affected areas, the spirit shown by people has been remarkable and humbling to witness. Many individual stories are truly heartbreaking.

“The local authorities and many volunteers who have come forward are now working well together and deserve our praise and thanks.

“I’m working to back that tremendous effort up with support from central government and making sure that all the agencies work together effectively.”