Flood cash “won’t be enough” say victims

Darfield flood victims say they were told they must attend a meeting this week - or lose out on cash to protect their homes!

A £320,000 sum to help protect 75 Darfield homes has been awarded to Barnsley Council by the Environment Agency, but some residents fear they may miss out, as they were unable to attend Monday’s meeting.

Furthermore, after hearing that surveyor and consultants’ fees will be drawn from the maximum £4,250 awarded to each home, they claim affordable action from remaining cash sums will not be enough to be effective.

There was an outcry last year when the Times revealed how £324,000 was spent on a fish ladder in the River Dearne, directly below the spot where flood victims were still reeling from the effects of 2007 floods.

So news of the recent cash ‘gift’ was welcomed. But following this week’s public meeting, campaigner John Bannister of Church View said: “We are being thrown a crumb - when we desperately, desperately need a loaf”!

It was revealed that a surveyor’s visit to a single home could cost up to £500, with a consultancy fee of up to 11.76 per cent, or £37,647 of the total allocated sum, to be stripped from the awarded grant.

Furthermore, some properties may need additional planning permission for recommended work - and that cost again would be pulled from the grant allocation.

A residents’ spokesman said: “We still have unanswered questions. It was said at the meeting, attended by people from the EA and Barnsley Council, that six inches of flood water is as damaging as three feet of flood water! That’s a nonsense. If the measures to be introduced will only help with up to two feet of flood water then they will be useless for up to five feet - such as we experienced in 2007.

“And there are other queries, such as how one person whose property is empty and awaiting a tenant, will be affected? He pays council tax. Will he be eligible for the grant, that is specified for ‘occupied properties’ and if not how will that affect the block of terraces”?

Following the letter sent out about Monday’s meeting, many did make very special efforts to attend the packed Scout Hut on Cliff Road, the Times was told. An attendee added: “It was an orderly meeting..with no shouting. But the general feeling was that the whole exercise will be a waste of time, if not enough can be done to combat floods of the type we have experienced”.

Surveying of properties is expected to begin in January, with work to begin in March and be completed by May next year.

Coun Roy Miller, Barnsley Council’s Cabinet spokesman for Development, Environment and Culture, said: “We were very pleased by the level of attendance at Monday’s meeting, with at least 60 of 75 eligible households present. “Although we encouraged all residents who were affected to attend, my officers have already met with a small number who were unable to attend and we are contacting others, to arrange a separate meeting.

“The EA scheme allows for a total of £4,250 per household. Similar schemes, for example at Leeds and Rotherham, demonstrate that this amount of cash support is more than adequate to provide significant flood resilience equipment”.