£250,000 aid for our businesses

Joanne Crossley at the Golden Lion pub, which was badly affected by recent flooding on Rochdale Road, Todmorden
Joanne Crossley at the Golden Lion pub, which was badly affected by recent flooding on Rochdale Road, Todmorden

A £250,000 package has been made available to help businesses which have been hit by the flood, and it may include some investment for the long term.

Yesterday afternoon Calderdale Council announced that the cash will initially be used to provide short-term help to get businesses back up and running, but the council will also consider longer-term support to ensure businesses are sustainable.

The news comes after a week in which the valley has come to national notice, with Prime Minister David Cameron in Hebden Bridge yesterday and Prince Charles (inset above) due to visit Hebden Bridge tomorrow.

Although some businesses are back open again others face months before they can re-open.

One of Todmorden’s most popular pubs has had to close as a result of the recent floods.

The Golden Lion, which was up for sale, suffered so much damage that brewery Punch Taverns decided that it will be sold off as an “empty shell” to a fresh business. The move leaves one of the licensees, Joanne Crossley, who has a three-year-old son, without a job and a place to live.

Joanne, who ran the Rochdale Road pub with two business partners, said: “We were doing really well and getting a good reputation in the six weeks we were here.

“So all our investment and hard work has just literally gone down the drain.”

The pub, which was under four feet of water, also had seven members of staff.

The water impacted on most businesses in Rochdale Road, including Cheeky Sew and Sew, Vedas, Todmorden Industrial and Co-operative, Excel Fire protection, Think and more.

There is also bad news for pubs on Halifax Road, with the Rope and Anchor being forced to close for at least three months, after it was severely flooded.

Landlady Angela Hargreaves said: “They think it was the drains that flooded us. It came up through the cellar and back door and conservatory door. It is just a disaster.”

Other businesses that were affected on Halifax Road, included Hussain Bros, which is owned by Todmorden Mayor Abid Hussain. Coun Hussain had to call on 40 family and friends to help him battle the floods. He managed to get his food stock upstairs, but lost around 70 per cent of his DIY tools and said it will be about four weeks before that part of his business is fully operational.

Meanwhile, The Factory Shop on Halifax Road was forced to close for three and a half days after the floods and lost around £30,000 worth of stock and trade.

Other businesses to suffer on Halifax Road, including Todmorden Hippodrome, Nomad and more.

Yesterday, the National Flood Forum, the Environment Agency, Calderdale Council, Yorkshire Water, held an open day in Todmorden to answer residents’ concerns, find out which area’s were hit worst and formulate a plan to try and improve flood defences in the town.

Heather Shepherd, from the National Forum, said: “Flooding is very much like a bereavement and it can take up to 18 months for people to recover.

“We’re talking to people who want to know how to make their homes more resilient, people who are having problems with insurance claims and uninsured residents. But mainly people just want to find out what happened and how it is going to be stopped in the future.”

Residents were given material about agencies who can help them with flood problems, but were also asked to identify their street on a map so the authorities can get a clearer picture of the area’s which were worst hit.

Jonathan Moxon, Flood resilient team leader at the Environment Agency, said: “It is important for us to be visible and give a chance for people to come and talk to us about their issues. We are trying to pinpoint where the main problems are to see if we can do anything about it now and see how we can plan for the future.”

Pat Cooke, who lives on Key Sike Lane, Todmorden, said: “My cellar was three feet deep in water and I had a three-week old washing machine and dryer in there. When the flood sirens went off my cellar was already flooded, so I think we need an earlier system.”

The council is making the money available from its Recovery Investment for a Stronger Economy (RISE) Fund, drawn from the Council’s Economic Fighting Fund and it has already been supporting businesses in a number of practical ways: through clearing up, providing environmental health and safety advice, said a spokesman, with the aim of getting out the message that “against the odds - we are open for business.”

But thought has been given to what businesses will need and council leader Coun Tim Swift said there was urgent need to help the worst affected businesses.

“While many businesses in the Calder Valley have already re-opened, there are some that are in real need of practical and financial help, and many that are now trading again still need help to ensure that they are viable in the longer term. The RISE fund will ensure that they receive that help.”

Cabinet Member for Economy and Environment, Coun Barry Collins, says it is right for the Council to take a lead in helping businesses. “We also hope that some of the larger businesses and organisations in Calderdale and across the wider region will follow the council’s lead and think about how they can help. Residents in the Calder Valley have shown magnificent community spirit, helping each other to pick up the pieces following the devastating floods. I am confident that businesses will show that same community spirit by providing practical help, either in cash or in kind.

“More than 200 businesses in the Calder Valley have been affected by the floods in some way and many of them need our help.”

Calderdale Council’s Deputy Leader, Coun Janet Battye, a Todmorden resident and Calder ward councillor, says the response by businesses to the floods has been magnificent.

“Having talked personally to many local shops and businesses, I know they have been badly hit by the floods. I’m concerned that a number are struggling to keep going or get back into business. It’s important that as the local Council, we do what we can to support them.”

Help from the community continues to pour in, thanks to efforts ranging from the Caler Valley Flood Victims Facebook site to the co-ordination of resources by the Community Foundation for Calderdale.

Yesterday CFFC chief executive Steve Duncan said the fund had, through pledges and gifts, reached £51,500 and yesterday morning a gift of £10,000 had been anonymously made. Among those rallying to the appeal were local Rotary clubs and individuals can give through the Local Giving website - www.localgiving.com/cffc

“We have processed all exisiting applications and £32,000 has been committed, made up of grants, white goods, cleaning materials and so on. It’s been a huge coming together of the community and just getting it done,” he said.

News of the Prince’s arrival was followed by another warning yesterday from the Environment Agency of the possibility of further flooding in areas of Yorkshire on Friday and Saturday prompted by a slow-moving band of heavy rain.