Businesses in Sheffield have their last chance today to vote on whether they want to see flood defences installed in the Lower Don Valley.
More than 250 companies in the valley are being urged to vote on the proposals – and they have only until 5pm today to do so.
The plans include nearly 40 interventions along the eight-kilometre stretch of the River Don between Nursery Street in the city centre and Blackburn Brook near the M1.
A majority yes vote is needed for the project to go ahead, and the result will be announced on Monday.
The £8.1 million project is reliant on businesses agreeing to contribute £1.4m.
Small companies with a rateable value of less than £12,000 will be excluded from paying, while more than half of firms would have to provide less than £2,500.
Such arrangements – called Business Improvement Districts – are being encouraged by the Government with a view to companies paying an additional fee to get projects that will benefit them and the area off the ground.
It is understood that improved flood defences should mean a better deal on insurance.
The Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs has offered £5.5m and further cash is being sought from the Environment Agency. Severe flooding caused huge disruption in the Lower Don Valley in 2000 and 2007.
Coun Leigh Bramall, the council’s cabinet member for business, skills and development, previously said the defences were ‘crucial’ in helping companies prepare for the future.
“The Lower Don Valley area is a strategically important area for the city and its economic future,” he said.
“That is why it is imperative that the council, the chamber of commerce, the Environment Agency and local businesses themselves work together to secure the best deal for the area.
“Of course we hope never to have a repeat of the devastating floods of 2007 again, but you can never predict what nature has in store, that is why getting prepared now is crucial.”
The Lower Don Valley is described as second only to the city centre in terms of economic significance.
Already flood defences have been strengthened in some areas, notably around Nursery Street, thanks to government grants.
Now the opportunity is being offered to carry out work along the whole valley to try to ensure the estimated chance of another major flood is one in 100 years.
Meadowhall has already installed one-in-200 year flood defences.