Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' Michael Jackson
17 January 2014, 16:02
The Government's announced an additional £6.7 million to help local councils deal with the damage caused by the recent flooding and severe weather.
The announcement came after the Local Government Association called on the Government for help in meeting repair bills to roads, coastal defences and other infrastructure running into hundreds of millions of pounds.
The coastlines in Norfolk and Suffolk were badly hit at the beginning of last December, with Walcott, Hemsby and Lowestoft getting the brunt of it.
The LGA wants the Department for Transport to create a highways maintenance emergency fund, similar to one created following similar severe flooding in 2007.
MP for Great Yarmouth Brandon Lewis said the new money will build on financial assistance already made available, including funds under the Bellwin Scheme, which enables councils to apply for help in exceptional circumstances.
Mr Lewis said: "I have been hugely impressed by the efforts of the emergency services, local authorities, voluntary organisations and communities through the recent severe weather and now we are helping areas to recover and see life return to normal.
"This extra £7 million that can be used to help affected communities, will provide local authorities and their partner agencies additional resources they need to support recovery.
"This will top up support councils can get under the Bellwin scheme to cover the costs of clearing up after severe weather and flooding, and the substantial funding councils already get for potholes.''
The LGA's environment and housing board chairman Mike Jones said: "Councils have worked round-the-clock since the bad weather began last month to protect residents and minimise disruption and will continue to help those who remain affected by flooding.
"The severe weather has left behind a daunting trail of destruction for councils to clear-up and fix.
"We were already facing a £10.5 billion repair backlog to bring our highways up to scratch and the damage to our roads by this recent flooding will be considerable and costly.
"While we are pleased the Bellwin Scheme will be activated, the fact remains that Bellwin is severely limited as it does not cover most capital costs.
"An emergency highways maintenance fund would provide essential support to those councils who now face hefty and unexpected repair bills as a result of the flooding.
"These bills are likely to place significant financial pressures on already stretched council finances and it is vital that local communities are not left to suffer as a result.
"Local communities and local economies need to recover as quickly as possible.
"This can only be achieved through extra government cash which covers repairs excluded from the Bellwin Scheme.''
Mr Lewis said that the Department for Transport was already providing more than £3.4 billion over the course of this Parliament and £5.8 billion in the next for local highways maintenance.