Council leaders call for government action to support flood-damaged residents

27 January 2021

Leaders with Cheshire West and Chester Council have called on the government to support residents affected by flooding in the borough.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, the Leader of the Council stresses that action is needed to protect the borough from future flooding. 

Areas of Cheshire West including Northwich, Winsford, Farndon, Acton Bridge, Tattenhall, Chester and Ellesmere Port were all hit by heavy rain brought by Storm Christoph last week. 

One of the worst-hit areas of the borough was Northwich, where water ran waist-high in some places, flooding homes and businesses. 

Across the borough, over 100 residents were evacuated from flooded homes, many of whom were provided with temporary accommodation. 

As water levels began to subside and the clean-up began, Council officers started to contact businesses and residents affected to offer them support. 

In Northwich alone, 39 local businesses have been hit by the storm, The Council and its partners are now working with the business community to support the recovery. 

In her letter to the Secretary of State, the Council leader, Cllr Louise Gittins says: “We are now supporting the process of clean-up and recovery, and to learn lessons from this distressing situation. The investment in flood defences for Northwich has proved invaluable. The defences worked to hold back the river but came within just 20cm of being over-topped. We will need to review quickly whether further investment may be required, as climate change disrupts the models that were previously used to assess the frequency of adverse weather events.”

In her letter, Cllr Gittins praises the partnership between Cheshire West and Chester Council, the Environment Agency, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cheshire Police, Northwich Town Council, and Northwich Business Improvement District. She says that by working together on a rapid response, the partners prevented even greater disruption. 

Cheshire West and Chester Council has initiated a review of the flooding incidents across the borough in its role as the legal flooding authority. This review will ensure that lessons are learnt for the future. 

Cllr Gittins adds: “We will identify the infrastructure needs, and I urge the government and United Utilities to make the necessary investment to protect our communities.”

The letter goes on to urge the government to provide financial support for Cheshire West and other councils affected by the storm and to: “Ensure that communities in Cheshire West receive the financial support they need for recovery, with minimal barriers and bureaucracy, and reflecting the special circumstances created by the pandemic.”

Cheshire West and Chester’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, Cllr Karen Shore, said: “The flooding has massively affected some businesses across our borough and business owners will understandably be very concerned about the future and getting back on their feet, especially following the impact of COVID-19 restrictions.

“The wellbeing of residents affected is our priority and our officers have been going door-to-door in areas of the borough affected to share information and to ensure people are supported. In Northwich, we are working closely with the Town Council and BID to manage the clean-up operation and to support affected residents.

“The businesses we have spoken to are understandably asking about financial assistance, especially those who are uninsured. We need to build a picture of the scale of the financial impacts from businesses directly, to direct them to the right support. Many businesses are currently closed in line with the national COVID-19 restrictions, and we may not have been in touch with them yet. We ask them to contact us so that we can support them.”

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