MP vows to help in area’s recovery

Environment Minister Richard Benyon meets with flood victims in Hebden Bridge with Helen Granton and Craig Whittaker.
Environment Minister Richard Benyon meets with flood victims in Hebden Bridge with Helen Granton and Craig Whittaker.

A GOVERNMENT minister has promised that the authorities will do all they can to help flood victims in the upper Calder Valley.

Richard Benyon MP, Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, was in Hebden Bridge to visit businesses and schools hit by one of the worst floods the area has ever seen.

Mr Benyon said he was working with Calderdale Council, Emergency Services and the Environment Agency to see what lessons can be learned and help businesses to get up and running.

The MP said: “It is very difficult to create an effective flood defence system that can cope with a months rain in a few hours. The devastating stories I have heard in Hebden Bridge, I don’t think anything could have prevented that.

“There are schemes which can help such as The Bellwin Scheme, which is a system where local authorities can apply for funding after disasters such as this. But at the moment we are still looking to see whether Calderdale applies for it.”

Mr Benyon, who was the guest of Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker was joined by interim Calderdale Chief Executive Grodon Mitchell and representatives from the Environment Agency on the town tour. The group visited Helen Granton’s on Crown Street, The Railway, on New Road; Valley Private Hire, New Road; Central Street Infants School and The Deli, on Market Street.

They were also approached by concerned businessmen Barry Greenwood - whose daughter-in-law owns Hair and There, on New Road, and Apo Ozdamal - manager of Moyles, on New Road.

Mr Ozdamal, who revealed Moyles will be closed for at least six months after the properties basement was completely flooded, said: “We just want to know our business is protected. We want to know that if our business floods again, we will be able to trade again. We are a big local employer and we want to keep employing local people and contribute to the Hebden Bridge community.”

Mr Benyon reassured both men that they would receive support from the relevant authorities and said work was being done to try and reduce the impact of future floods.

Craig Whittaker MP, who was with his wife at the Hippodrome Theatre in Todmorden when it started flooding said he would also do all he could to help people affected by the floods in Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Mytholmroyd and Cragg Vale.

He said: “For the last four days I have been talking to people, seeing what is going on and contacting Calderdale Council and the Environment Agency.

“This area will definitely recover - some parts will take longer than others. That is because of the vast community support in all parts of the Valley, where people have turned up with mops, brushes and spades to help with the clean-up.”