Councils to pick up flooding bills

PUBLISHED: 09:38 11 February 2008 | UPDATED: 19:41 05 July 2010

The bill for last year's tidal surge will be met by councils which were in the front line of the emergency - because the government said not enough damage was caused.

The bill for last year's tidal surge will be met by councils which were in the front line of the emergency - because the government said not enough damage was caused.

Norfolk County Council cannot expect ministers to recoup any of its £170,000 costs for handing out sandbags, setting up evacuation centres and repairs during the floods of November 9.

Although Suffolk County Council has not disclosed its tidal surge operation cost, it is understood that it will also be well below the government threshold of £1.7m for county councils to claim back money for coping with major events.

The government rules appear to be a snub for coastal communities such as Walcott, which suffered extensive flood damage as water levels rose by about 8in (20cm) across the region.

Last night Norman Lamb, MP for north Norfolk, called for the government to change its emergency handout policy as he fears East Anglia will be soon subject to regular large-scale flooding due to global warming.

He said: “The government does need to rethink its policy as it seems it will only help councils in the event of a complete calamity.

“It seems to me that the cost of global warming should be one that is shared, instead of areas such as East Anglia, which are in the frontline, being left to cope with the increasing burden.”

Councils can apply to the Department for Communities and Local Government to cover certain emergency costs. Ministers recently approved a multi-million pound package to help communities affected by last year's summer floods.

A government spokeswoman said: “While there was flooding at some locations along the east coast in November, which was under-standably distressing for those affected, it did not cause widespread or severe damage. We would expect local authorities to be able to cover the cost from contingencies in local budgets, as they would for any localised emergency situation.”

Kate Gooding, Norfolk County Council spokeswoman, said: “Our estimate on the cost of the tidal surge is about £170,000. Our threshold to claim back funds from the govern-ment is £1.7m so we fall well below that.”

It is estimated that the surge cost Yarmouth Borough Council £53,000 and under different threshold guidelines it is asking for £20,000 from the government.

North Norfolk District Council, which had to carry out an extensive clean-up operation, said that initial costs were about £50,000 but the bill was set to rise by a significant amount once all repair work was finished.

Under the banner of Operation Landmark, Suffolk Police spent £12,000 on the flood emergency and it will not be asking the government for any additional funding.

Norfolk Police and Waveney District Council were unable to confirm how much they spent dealing with the tidal surge.

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