Bury Labour has welcomed that the long-awaited investment in a vital flood defence scheme to protect homes in Radcliffe and Redvales has finally been granted.
The Government has pledged to fill the funding gap of £7 million to enable the robust defences to be installed as part of an overall £46 million scheme that has been more than two years in the making.
It follows ongoing calls from Labour Councillors and MPs from Bury and Rochdale, who lobbied Thérèse Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment, in March this year over the funding shortfall.
Bury Labour had previously committed the Council to contribute £2 million to the scheme, alongside £1 million from the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC), with the remaining balance coming from the Environment Agency (EA).
Bury Council leader, Rishi Shori, said: "I am delighted by this news. Finally, after many months of lobbying the Government, we are at last being promised the money we need to take our flood defence plans forward to protect our residents from the sort of devastation that they suffered nearly three years ago. More than 670 homes in Radcliffe and Redvales were flooded when the River Irwell burst its banks following unprecedented rainfall on Boxing Day 2015. While the physical damage caused by Storm Eva may no longer be visible, the emotional and physical scars still remain for those people affected. It is vitally important that a flood protection scheme is put in place as soon as possible, in order to give them peace of mind.
It should never have taken this long to get what our residents deserve. It is now imperative that no more time is wasted and work gets under way on bringing these essential defences to Radcliffe and Redvales.
I would also like to put on record my thanks for the work of the Radcliffe and Redvales Flood Action Group for their help and support in moving this agenda forward."
The funding will enable the detailed design of the scheme to begin next month, with the view for work to begin in March 2019. Construction is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2021.
Ivan Lewis, MP for Bury South, said: "This is incredible news. A huge amount of work has been done and we now have a deliverable scheme to protect hundreds of properties in Radcliffe. We should not forget the devastating impact that the floods have had and the human cost of not acting. I'm hoping that today's news will offer peace of mind to those that were affected."
James Frith, MP for Bury North, said: "I welcome that the Government has finally committed the funding needed for flood defences in Bury, more than two years after the floods and following months of intense lobbying. This is good news for the people of Radcliffe and Redvales. The funding needs to come down quickly so the scheme can be delivered as soon as possible and the people of Bury can be assured that they won’t be turned out of their homes again."
Cllr Rhyse Cathcart said: "As someone who has been personally affected by the floods this is the most amazing news. Myself and my family will sleep a lot more soundly this evening."
The EA has held various meetings and public consultations as the scheme has been developed and Cllr Alan Quinn, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said these continued discussions are vital. He said: “It has taken many months for residents to recover from the impact of the flooding. Communication and engagement with local people is vital. With the EA, we will continue to involve residents closely in the planning and design process of the defences."
The preferred scheme comprises a flood balancing pond at Swan Lodge and cutting off flow routes under the Metrolink embankment at Lower Hinds, as well as raised defences along the river's edge between Warth Mill and Close Park, protecting about 870 properties.