FLOODS: Council has not claimed aid money

SHEFFIELD Council bosses are yet to claim a penny from a dedicated Government fund made available in the aftermath of the summer's floods.

Monday, 15th October 2007, 5:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th October 2007, 1:08 pm

The Bellwin Scheme, open to all local authorities affected by flooding in June and July, was set up to reimburse local authorities for some costs they incurred dealing with the unexpected weather.

Floods Recovery Minister John Healey, the MP for Wentworth, offered the support of his officials in completing the claims process.

But not one application has been received from any of the 82 affected areas.

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Sheffield was hit badly by the storms which claimed two lives in the city.

Thousands of homes were damaged and scores of people are still living in caravans or temporary accommodation while they wait for their properties to be restored.

In July it was estimated the floods could costs Sheffield Council up to 30 million - including around 20m on roads and highways and more than 3m on housing costs. And it is costs like these which the Bellwin Scheme covers.

"This summer saw the worst flooding for over a century. It affected large parts of the country causing devastation and misery for thousands of people," said Mr Healey.

"The emergency services, local authorities and other agencies responded to this magnificently - but clearly this comes at a cost."

Claims must relate to costs incurred by an authority on, or in connection with, immediate action to safeguard life and property or to prevent suffering or severe inconvenience.

"Our overriding objective is to make payments fairly and as quickly as possible to the benefit of these communities who have already suffered so much," said Mr Healey.

"So I am surprised that to date we have received no applications for interim payments."

A Sheffield Council spokesman said: "Work is under way on our Bellwin application. It is a complex process. The application will go in as soon as work on it is complete."

A Rotherham Council spokesman said: "We shall be submitting an interim claim shortly and a final bid for assistance under this scheme is being put together in time for January 14."

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