Yvette Cooper MP

Working hard for Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford & Knottingley

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The flood waters across Yorkshire may now be receding but the Government still hasn't learned the lessons

Round here we owe thanks to the army, emergency services and Wakefield Council who were out on our streets at all hours when flooding threatened in Lock Lane in Castleford, in Ferrybridge and in Kirkthorpe. And we feel for neighbours and friends still blighted by the collapse of the bridge in Tadcaster, and by the terrible flood damage to two of our great Northern cities in Leeds and York.

We've seen some warm hearted Yorkshire spirit as people have rallied round to help - volunteers who turned up in Kirkstall to help with the big clean up, the church halls that opened, the groups who turned up with hot meals and cleaning products.

But the Government has let Yorkshire down - especially Leeds where a major programme of flood defences was cut back. Even now they aren't doing enough to help - either to support families and businesses enduring the nightmare of coping with flood damage or to prevent flooding in the first place.

Today in Parliament I urged the Environment Secretary to ensure the Government's flood defences review includes the Five Towns and the entire Aire Valley. We also have to make sure defences in one part of the river don't cause problems elsewhere.

Four years ago Tory Ministers cancelled the planned flood defence scheme in Leeds that was designed to protect Kirkstall Road and other areas. One Minister dismissed it as “a Rolls-Royce, where a reasonably priced family car might serve some of the purpose." Tell that to the families and businesses coping with terrible flood damage now. 

Warm words from David Cameron just won't wash any more. We need answers and action - including rapid help for homes and businesses affected.

It's not good enough to just make promises as the water flows, then let them ebb as the water (and the headlines) subside. The Yorkshire Evening Post is right - the Government call us the Northern Powerhouse, yet allow two great cities to see their centres submerged in dirty water. As the capital city, London has had much needed flood defences for decades - but climate change is putting more places at risk and our great northern cities and towns need protection too.

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