County councillors back floods work bid

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RIPON'S demand to get its flood defence scheme reinstated has won unanimous backing from county councillors.

The support came this week when Ripon councillor, Bernard Bateman, called on the council to seek urgent action from the Government following two disastrous floods in the city in less than seven years.

Planning permission for a Ripon flood defence scheme already exists, but lack of the funding for the the £11.7 million project has led to it being put on hold.

Wednesday's meeting of North Yorkshire County Council heard an impassioned plea from one local resident who has been flooded out twice.

Campaigner Mike Deeming, of Borrage Lane, told how his home and others on the street had flooded in November 2000 and again on June 15 this year.

"I cannot begin to express the trauma this represents," said Mr Deeming.

"We were lucky â€" we have a two-storey house and were able to get most of our personal belongings upstairs. Many of our neighbours are retired and live in bungalows. Many have lost nearly everything."

Proposing the motion at Wednesday's meeting, Coun Bateman said: "Some 500 houses in our city have been affected by the flooding over the past seven years â€" ten per cent of our housing stock."

He said Borrage Lane in particular was seriously affected again, with many residents facing the prospect of being out of their homes for several months.

"Urgent action is needed now â€" Ripon cannot wait for another flood disaster to hit our city before these flood defences are put in place.

Coun Bateman's motion was to urge DEFRA and the Environment Agency to reinstate the flood defence project for Ripon.

Following an amendment â€" to all also call on the Government to honour its commitments to provide flood defences in other parts of the county - the motion won unanimous support from the council.

Speaking afterwards, Coun Bateman said: "Ripon has now experienced two disastrous flooding events in less than seven years. This has resulted in some 500 homes and businesses being affected, causing great distress to our residents and more than £10 million worth of damage.

"The Environment Agency, in not providing the funding they agreed, did so wrongly on the basis that Ripon would not experience this level of flooding in another 105 years. How wrong could they have been?

"I welcome the support which came from all sides of the council chamber for my motion."

Although planning permission was granted last year for Ripon flood defences, the scheme did not score highly enough to secure funding.

Mr Deeming said that if it had been built, it would have prevented the recent flooding of property.

A key component of the scheme is the construction of a dam on the River Laver to hold back flood water. This would cost in the region of £4.5million and should be the first priority, said Mr Deeming.

"We cannot allow so many vulnerable people to continue to be exposed to this risk," he said.

Ripon's MP, David Curry has this week pledged to keep up the fight to get the city's flood defences reinstated.

"I shall explore every avenue and make sure no-one in government or its agencies is allowed to lose sight of Ripon in the drama over bigger cities like Hull," he says in an article for the Ripon Gazette.

"Twice in seven years is already twice too often. People and business in Ripon need the most important security of all â€" being safe under their own roof."

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