THE authorities’ response to severe floods needs to “greatly improve”, according to a long-awaited scrutiny report.

The in-depth review was carried out in the aftermath of the Boxing Day floods, which devastated homes and businesses in many parts of the district.

Many people said the official help they had received had been inadequate and badly co-ordinated, prompting the full Council to order the review.

Now the council’s corporate overview and scrutiny committee has published its report into the actions of the authorities, after months of gathering evidence from residents, businesses and voluntary groups.

In a foreword, committee chairman Councillor Arshad Hussain said the council’s “approach to flood resilience should be stronger, with improved co-ordination of activities and communication by Bradford Council and its key partners”.

He said they also needed to “greatly improve our approach to preventing flooding”.

And he said voluntary groups had been “instrumental” in helping flood-hit people and the council should work closer with such organisations.

The report gives eight recommendations for improvements.

These include extra communication training for council emergency planning staff, the production of laminated leaflets containing key flooding information, a request for the Environment Agency to circulate flood alerts much earlier and the creation of a new ‘flood buddy’ support system where local people can help other residents.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, the executive member for planning at Labour-led Bradford Council, said the authority had already been working on some of the issues highlighted.

He said: “I don’t think any of it is a surprise to us, in so much as a lot of officers and I attended information-gathering sessions and we have been speaking to residents outside of this process since the floods happened, so there is work going on in some of these areas.

“This report will help us make sure we keep the process going.”

But leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, who sits on the scrutiny committee, called the report “fatally flawed”.

She said the review team had not gathered evidence from ward councillors in flood-hit areas, despite her requests for them to do so.

For example, she said, she would have described how she as a ward councillor had wrongly been told by council staff that Apperley Bridge was in the Leeds district and how she had seen sandbags delivered to the wrong side of the river.

Cllr Hussain (Lab, Toller) refuted the claim, saying all councillors had been “given many opportunities to submit their views”.

Leader of the Conservative group, Councillor Simon Cooke, who also sits on the scrutiny committee, said while he did not disagree with any of the points in the report, in his view it didn’t go far enough.

He said the council needed to prioritise flood prevention work far more.

The report will go before the scrutiny committee on Thursday, before being presented to the Full Council later in the year.

Bingley Town Councillor Michelle Chapman, who founded the Bingley Flood Support Group, said she had been invited to the meeting and would be studying the review beforehand.