Bid for cut of flood cash for town

Coun Martyn Bolt, pictured by the River Calder which he is calling for to be dredged to prevent flooding
Coun Martyn Bolt, pictured by the River Calder which he is calling for to be dredged to prevent flooding

Mirfield should not miss out on cash to prevent future flooding, a councillor has said.

Coun Martyn Bolt spoke out after Prime Minister David Cameron vowed that lessons would be learned in the wake of devastating floods in the south of the country.

Mr Cameron promised a raft of measures to help residents in the Somerset Levels and beyond, adding: “We will deal with the floods and we will build a more resilient country for the future.”

Coun Bolt said: “If it is good enough for Somerset then it is good enough for other areas.

“I appreciate other places are suffering. Many areas will quite rightly be asking for flood mitigation. As a Mirfield councillor I am asking on behalf on Mirfield residents.”

The area around the Ship Inn in Steanard Lane has flooded for generations when the River Calder has burst its banks. Coun Bolt also highlighted Butt End Mills, West Mills playing fields and Battyeford Sporting Club as areas that would benefit from flood mitigation.

Coun Bolt said a package of measures, including the dredging of Mirfield’s waterways, would help protect vulnerable parts of the town.

“From one end of Mirfield to the other there are areas where there are flood risks,” he said.

Focusing on reducing the impact of developments on land drainage was also important, he added.

Coun Bolt has written to the Environment Agency, Mirfield MP Simon Reevell and the Canal and River Trust, which looks after the Calder and Hebble Navigation. Officials from the Canal and River Trust are arranging a meeting with Coun Bolt to discuss his concerns.

Coun Robert Light (Con, Birstall and Birkenshaw) is the deputy chairman of the Environment Agency. He said there were a lot of myths around how best to deal with flooding.

“No evidence I have seen supports a dredging review on the Calder,” he added. “We have to get away from this idea that we can carry on building on flood plains. If you don’t build on flood plains then you don’t get flooded properties.

“Kirklees Council says it can mitigate against it but it is not King Canute.

“The climate is not that same as it was 10 years ago. We have more instances of this happening virtually on an annual basis.

“We can’t stop rain coming out of the sky but we can change what we do when it hits the ground.”

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said it had dredged parts of the Calder in the past, but it was not always the best solution.

He added: “In order to meet government policy and to ensure good value for money, the Environment Agency focuses its work where it delivers the greatest flood risk benefit.

“The Environment Agency compares investment in dredging, desilting, weed control, maintaining defences, clearing blockages, and pumping water from flooded land to find the most effective use of the funds available.

“Dredging and desilting are done where they will improve a channel’s ability to carry increased river flows, but in some circumstances dredging is not the best long-term or economic solution compared to other flood risk measures.”