BRADFORD Council's leader has called for more Government support in the wake of Storm Ciara.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said councils across the region need more help to invest in flood defences and flood alleviation schemes.

Responding to the flooding across West Yorkshire, she said: “The Combined Authority is doing all it can to support our partner councils as, yet again, communities across our region suffer the consequences of extreme weather conditions.

“This should be the moment that, as a country, we stop treating these events as exceptional, accept that we should expect them to occur more frequently in the light of climate change and invest in the flood defences and flood alleviation schemes we need to protect homes and businesses.

“Since the Boxing Day floods of 2015, the Combined Authority has invested £20 million from the Leeds City Region Growth Deal, alongside over £170m of partner match funding for the City Region, into schemes covering Leeds City Centre, Skipton and Mytholmroyd to safeguard up to 1,385 businesses and at least 11,100 jobs from the risk of flood.

"The Combined Authority has also worked with partners to invest over £10m of European Regional Development Funding in flood schemes across the City Region with a pipeline of further schemes currently being appraised.

“We’re also investing a further £2.6m in the Wyke Beck Flood Alleviation Scheme in East Leeds, £3.9m in phase two of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme and £1.7m in natural flood management schemes in the Colne, Calder and Upper Aire catchment areas.

“Just last week, a further £1.9m was approved by our Investment Committee to help start a £27.2m scheme in Hebden Bridge being led by the Environment Agency which will reduce the risk of flooding from a 20% risk to a 2% risk in any given year.

“However we have consistently argued that further Government support is needed to match the scale of investment needed.

“In the immediate term we will be asking Government for financial support - similar to that put in place for the 2015 Boxing Day floods - to help people and businesses affected by these floods cope with the immediate impacts and get back on their feet. We are also looking at putting our own business grants scheme in place to help SMEs in particular continue trading.

“As the Transport Authority for West Yorkshire, we are coordinating the response of transport operators to the disruption caused by the flooding and providing people with the latest bus and rail travel information via @MetroTravelnews on Twitter on our Travel information website at and through our MetroLine call centre on 0113 245 7676.

“Ahead of the Budget we have asked the Government to provide £123m towards a £245m programme of flood protection work covering 27 schemes over the next six years.

“And, over the longer term, flood alleviation is also a key element of our devolution negotiations with the Government. The ability to build resilience to respond to climate change is a key element of our devolution negotiation with the Government. Securing the powers and resources to tackle major challenges such as the flooding incidents we have seen in recent years is an important part of building a meaningful devolution deal for our region.”

“In the coming days and weeks the Government must demonstrate its commitment to protecting our communities by providing the funding we need.”

The Local Government Secretary today announced that it has activated the Government’s emergency Bellwin scheme for councils in areas in the north of England affected by Storm Ciara.

Under the scheme, local authorities dealing with the effects of the storm can apply to have 100% of the eligible costs they incur, above a threshold, reimbursed by the government. This could be for items including rest centres, temporary accommodation and staff overtime.

The scheme has been activated for qualifying areas in West Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire which have seen significant impacts over the weekend following Storm Ciara.

Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: "Storm Ciara has had damaging effects on communities in the north of England, and I want to praise the efforts of the emergency services and key agencies who have responded to the disruption.

"We’re working closely with local areas to support them in their recovery. I’ve activated the emergency Bellwin scheme to provide financial support to qualifying affected areas.

"The Government has acted swiftly to support local areas affected by Storm Ciara. Environment Agency teams remain on the ground operating flood defences and supporting communities that have been affected by the severe weather. An estimated 12,000 properties have been protected by flood defences over the weekend.

"The Government will continue to monitor the risk of flooding and is working closely with Police, Fire and Rescue, local authorities, local resilience forums and partners to keep communities safe and to support their recovery."