Hebden Bridge: Flood alleviation scheme delayed a year

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image copyrightAlamy
image captionMany businesses were not insured, leaving them facing huge financial costs after the flooding

Multi-million pound flood defence works to safeguard a town will take a year longer than expected to finish, it has emerged.

The work at Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire is set to take an extra year as the council and Environment Agency try to minimise the impact on the town.

Hebden Bridge, which sits in the Calder Valley, was badly flooded in 2012, 2015 and February this year.

One local business said it was vital to keep the town open for trade.

Calderdale Flood Recovery and Resilience Programme officials said a major concern had been how major construction works would disrupt tourism.

Works are now expected to start in the summer 2021, but because the scheme will be constructed in phases it is not expected to be completed before summer 2024, taking three instead of the planned two years.

image copyrightAlamy
image captionHomes and businesses were left standing in up to 6ft of water

Hebden Bridge flood warden Andrew Entwistle said the defence and alleviation schemes were "one of those jigsaws where if you don't do them all, then none of them work properly".

He added: "If they were to do it all at once it would be chaotic, that would devastate the town.

"There's a schedule of work so not closing down both sides of the river at once."

image captionHebden Bridge Flood Warden Andrew Entwistle

The owners of a book shop in the town had installed a moveable shop sign that can also protect their business from flooding.

One of the directors of The Book Case, Jake Kirkwood said he backed the delay in finishing the flood defence works if it kept trade coming to the town.

He said: "We've certainly felt that rushing straight on after Covid, and with other road works, it would have been a complete disaster for footfall.

"We'd certainly be in favour of minimising disruption to business, what with the pandemic, and after floods it would have been a real problem for the town."

image captionThe Book Case shop installed a moveable sign that works as a flood defence in Hebden Bridge

Labour Councillor Jane Scullion said the increased length of time was not ideal, but perhaps necessary.

"Given the impact of the flooding and Covid-19 on the local retail and hospitality sector, if it allows more businesses to stay open in that period and protects more life in the town, I guess that is the price that has to be paid," she said.

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