Since unprecedented floods hit Calderdale on Boxing Day 2015, Calderdale Council has been working tirelessly with other organisations and local people to help the borough recover and to protect communities from further flooding.
Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said:
“The floods caused devastation across 25 miles of Calderdale. Over 2000 residents and more than 1000 businesses were flooded. Nearly one year on, the full human impact is immeasurable and the financial cost remains huge. However, throughout the year I’ve been overwhelmed by the response of local people, who continue to pull together to support each other and do whatever is needed to bounce back.
“Good progress has been made in our flood repair and resilience works, but we know there is still a great deal to do. Let there be no doubt that the Council, along with our partner organisations, will keep doing everything we can to reduce the risks and impacts of future flooding.”
The total cost to the Council of the Boxing Day 2015 floods will not be known for some time, but it is estimated that it could exceed £50 million. The cost of the damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure alone is estimated at £25 million.
Key progress made since December 2015 includes:
- The launch of a £3 million Council fund which is going towards flood recovery and resilience work across Calderdale.
- Nearly £3 million paid out in grants and Council Tax discounts so far to residents affected by flooding.
- Over £4 million paid out in grants and Business Rates discounts so far to flood-affected businesses.
- Intensive support for businesses, with Council teams based out in communities along the Calder Valley giving one-to-one advice, encouraging take-up of resilience grants and signposting to specialist support. Nearly 90% of businesses are back to being fully operational.
- The launch of a Floods Commission to consider the flooding causes, impacts and responses. The Council and other organisations are working towards the Commission’s recommendations to reduce the risks and impacts of future flooding.
- The launch of the Calderdale Flood Partnership’s Catchment Plan for Calderdale, which details key works to help the borough recover from the floods, improve resilience and reduce the risk of flooding. This includes strengthening defences, natural flood management, maintenance and community resilience.
- The launch of a Flood Programme Board with specialist teams dealing with flood recovery, resilience and prevention, as well as natural flood management.
- The completion of £750,000 of repairs (funded by the Department for Transport) at flood-hit Falling Royd in Hebden Bridge, which until October 2016 was reduced to one lane of traffic due to substantial flood damage to the road.
- Joint work by the Environment Agency and the Council to complete a flood risk reduction scheme in the Bacup Road area of Todmorden. Improvements have been made at 22 locations to manage water coming off the moors and improve capacity in the existing culverts.
- The four schools that were severely affected by the floods are now back on their feet. Thanks to a massive community effort, lessons continued and the schools are now more flood resilient. Scout Road Academy reopened in October 2016 after the Council installed a 250-metre specialist safety fence to help protect those using and living on the road, following the landslip caused by Storm Eva.
- Works are well underway with the Canal & River Trust to repair and rebuild flood-damaged bridges in Calderdale, including the £5.5 million Department for Transport funded projects at Elland Bridge and Crowther Bridge. Work is also progressing on a new bridge for Copley.
- Working with Northern Powergrid to relocate sub-stations to improve the flood resilience of the power network.
- Reopening flood-affected Hebden Bridge Library and Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre.
- The Council held its biggest ever live training exercise with emergency services and other organisations in October 2016 to rehearse the action that would be taken in response to a major flooding incident. Lessons continue to be learned and changes to procedures identified.
- A Council-run marketing campaign targeting tourists, visitors and the business community to send out a clear message that Calderdale is open for business.
- The Council awarded over £30,000 to community groups to help them put on local events and festivals to celebrate all that’s great about Calderdale. The deadline for applying for the next round of funding is Wednesday 1 February 2017. Visit Community festival and event fund.
Calderdale certainly is a great place, with its amazing community spirit continuing to shine throughout the aftermath of the floods, and a huge team effort from numerous organisations and volunteers such as flood wardens, flood groups and flood hubs. There has also been a fantastic fundraising effort across the community, led by the Community Foundation for Calderdale, which has helped fund activities in the borough such as the Watermark Fund that has already raised £250,000.
Hebden Bridge’s recent accolade of Best Small Market Town in the Great British High Street of the Year Awards is testament to this, and is further proof that Calderdale is back in business.
Work is well underway on the multi-million pound Flood Alleviation Schemes for Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge. These aim to reduce the risk of flooding to 1,600 homes and businesses.
The Council and the Environment Agency are delighted to announce that further works will be taking place from early 2017 to help make Calderdale more flood resilient, which include:
- Work starting at Woodland View in Hebden Bridge – the terraced homes adjacent to the River Calder which are prone to flooding. This will improve the local drainage infrastructure to help protect properties.
- A pumped surface water scheme at Burnt Acres Wood will begin, which will minimise disruption on the A646 Halifax Road and reduce flood risk to local homes and businesses.
- The Pin Hill Lane flood risk reduction scheme, to address the drainage issues in Midgley to protect properties in the village.
- Plans to raise flood defences at Park Road, Elland to prevent the river overtopping into the canal and flooding properties along the road.
Plans for works to improve flood protection in Copley village, Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse are also in development as the Council and partner organisations seek to enhance defences and resilience to flooding across the whole of the Calder Valley.
The Council is also introducing a new ‘business enhancement’ scheme for flood-affected businesses to offer further financial support to businesses which have recovered from the floods and are in a position to start planning for growth. Grants will be available to cover a range of options, including capital purchases, development of premises and employment of new staff.