Fears over the long-term impact of floods that hit over 2,000 Yorkshire businesses

A man wades through flood waters at Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, where flood sirens were sounded after torrential downpours.
A man wades through flood waters at Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, where flood sirens were sounded after torrential downpours.

WARNINGS have been issued over the long-term impact of the Boxing Day floods on Yorkshire’s economy amid new evidence of the scale of damage on the worst-hit communities.

More than 2,000 businesses in the region are now believed to have been affected by the disaster, triggering concerns some will be unable to recover and others will relocate.

Worst hit has been Calderdale where latest figures show at least 1,250 businesses and 2,600 residential properties were affected.

Council chiefs put the bill for infrastructure damage in the authority at £35m, with costs to businesses standing at £15m.

Yesterday a meeting of the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee in Leeds was told checks on potential damage to more than 8,000 key infrastructure assets in the region are still underway, with some still underwater.

Yorkshire Water revealed more than 100 sewage treatment works and pumping stations had been damaged, half severely, with repairs likely to cost many millions of pounds.

Disaster responses had been hampered in a number of areas by the collapse of communications networks including mobile and landline telephones.

The meeting heard those parts worst affected by the torrential downpours faced major shortfalls in cash for flood defences under existing funding arrangements.

Concerns were also raised businesses would not benefit from the controversial Flood Re scheme due to come into force for households in April, making insurance in flood-hit areas unaffordable.

Coun Steve Sweeney, 
representing Calderdale, said businesses had been badly 
hit by four serious floods in 
three years in the Upper Calder valley and could not get insurance.

Fewer jobs meant “people are just going to leave”.

Officials estimate £30m needs to be spent on flood defences in the district but there is a funding gap of £15m.

In Leeds, where 500 jobs are said to be at risk due to the floods, latest figures show 540 firms were hit by the downpours, alongside 1,700 homes.

Coun Richard Lewis, representing Leeds, said the council was in talks with affected businesses about potential relocation within the area but he was concerned multi-nationals could simply pull out of the city.

He said one Indian restaurant with kitchens in its basement on the badly-hit Kirkstall Road in the city had been told it was cheaper to knock down the building and start again than carry out repairs.

Coun Andrew Waller, representing York where 350 homes and 157 businesses were hit, said the economic impact on the city had been significant in the wake of advice not to visit at the height of the crisis.

The committee agreed to draw up a series of potential solutions to combat the risk of flooding and improve the resilience of affected areas.