MORE control over outside bodies should be given to help prevent flooding by more fully managing the uplands, councillors agreed.

Councillor Geraldine Carter (Con, Ryburn), who chairs Calderdale Council’s Flooding Scrutiny Panel, urged Government to give a better response to allow this to happen.

With properties in upland places such as Ripponden suffering flooding, coupled with the impact lower down in the valley, upland management was important, she told the council’s Cabinet this week.

She said the council should get a definite responses from Government about pressurising Yorkshire Water to leave reservoir levels lower, the company stating they are not allowed by law to let levels go down.

Coun Carter also wondered if a lot of the problem were also down to spring water supplies replaced by mains supply years ago, but had just been left without being used.

Bradford & Bingley Sports Club hit hard by Storm Ciara flooding

“We need to get some responses about management of land on the hilltops, some mechanism stopping it going down the hillside at a gallop and ending up at the bottom.

“We need to understand somewhere along the line we need better means of controlling water companies and how they manage their land,” she said.

The council could not do any more – outside agencies needed to take more responsibility, she said.

Leader of Calderdale Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said Yorkshire Water had specifically agreed to reinstate a pilot at Hebden Bridge reservoirs to keep them ten per cent lower than full, to see if this would be a workable model. Natural Flood Management and land management were important, he said.

Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot), Cabinet member for Climate Change and Environment, said he had made the point about looking elsewhere than the bottom of the valley to Environment Agency Chief Executive James Bevan.

“The engineering helps when it is complete but apart from that it is about what we do holistically,” he said.

“The buck stops here in the way we communicate with our partners and we need to make more definite asks.”

Some upland landowners were doing good work, said Coun Patient.

“But we also need to be looking beyond our responsible landowners, of which there are some, to the irresponsible owners who aren’t looking after their ground, to those that are being subsidised for grouse shooting etcetera.

“There is a lot to be done and it is very frustrating, but hopefully we can get that message across together,” he said.

Coun Audrey Smith (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) asked if there was any truth in the rumour an opening had been left in a dam that caused flooding.

Coun Patient said councillors had asked the question themselves and while awaiting official response had been told the answer was “a categorical no.”

Deputy Leader of the Council, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said at times like this there were often rumours about dams and reservoirs on the tops. The rumoured situation would be extremely unlikely but the council would find out, she said.