Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, and the Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council, George Dunning, are writing to local government Minister, Eric Pickles, to demand the ‘immediate release’ of emergency cash help for the council and local communities in the Borough affected by last week’s flooding.
“I understand the Council are preparing to make a formal request for help under what is called ‘the Bellwin scheme’ to provide cash help. The Bellwin scheme covers many areas where expenditure is needed to clear up after the floods. It can cover, for example, the removal of fallen trees and timber which are or may be dangerous to the public, including trees in parks, trees on highways, and trees owned by private householders, the costs of initial repairs to highways, pavements and footpaths, wage costs for council staff who have worked overtime to clean up our villages, and costs of evacuating people from dangerous structures, and temporary rehousing.
“If this cash is released then it could be possible to supplement this with some help for individuals and families who have suffered directly via the Council’s own hardship welfare fund.
“The problem is that, as we found out after the Skinningrove floods some years back, Bellwin funds are difficult to get speedily and the procedures for claiming these funds are very bureaucratic. That is why George and I are writing to Eric Pickles asking for special attention as the council is not wealthy enough to bear these costs unilaterally. I will also try to raise the matter on the floor of the House of Commons.”
Councillor George Dunning said:
“I hope the Government will heed this call. A lot of people suffered from these floods, and people are – quite rightly – looking to see that the council do all it can. We will be responding to their requests to clean and make safe affected communities, but the council cannot do all this on its own. That is why we are approaching the government for Bellwin funding. That cash reserve is held by government for just the kinds of emergencies we have suffered from, and if it can be unlocked sooner rather than later, many people will be very, very grateful.”