Burnley Council and Environment Agency slammed over 'paltry' £51 spend on Padiham flood defences in last year
Burnley Council and its partners the Environment Agency have been slammed for spending just £51 on flood defence works in Padiham over the last 12 months despite a budget of £2.5m.
The paltry sum was highlighted by Labour leader Coun. Mark Townsend and new Burnley Tory MP Antony Higginbotham who both called on the Environment Agency to get "spades in the ground" after Padiham was hit by more devastating floods.
Storm Ciara wreaked havoc in the town on Sunday as shopkeepers and residents fought to keep water from the River Calder, which flows through the town, emptying into their shops and homes.
Burnley Council has a budget of £2.5m. to be spent on the North West Burnley Growth Corridor, which includes improved flood defences for Padiham, seen as a priority since the Boxing Day floods of 2015.
Coun. Townsend, who was the previous leader of Burnley Council, said he planned to raise the "unacceptable delay" with the council at its next full meeting.
He said: "After the devastating floods in 2015 Padiham was assured that everything possible that could be done would be done to prevent it happening again.
"The residents of Padiham are rightly angry that the town centre has been flooded again and not a single flood prevention measure has even been started. I planned to warn about this at the next full council meeting but nature has beaten me to it.
"Millions have been fought for, secured and allocated for a flood defence project but why has nothing been delivered in the last 12 months? Why out of a budget of £2.5m allocated by Burnley Council last February to the North West Burnley Growth Corridor that includes flood defences for Padiham has only £51 been spent?
"Burnley Council, Lancashire County Council, Environment Agency and the Government have serious questions to answer. The money has already been reduced from £2.5m. to £2m. and I suspect this is because of delays."
Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham who described the situation as "ludicrous" and called on the Environment Agency to do more.
He said: "It seems ludicrous that despite this money being in place there has not been broken ground yet in terms of work. It can't be right that people go through the terrible anxiety of flooding when the town has been promised flood defences for a long time.
"This is a massive issue and I will be putting pressure on the Environment Agency to try and get this process speeded up."
Burnley Council leader, Coun. Charlie Briggs, said: "The £2.5m. in this year’s capital programme is a contribution to the Burnley North West Growth Corridor Programme, which includes the Padiham flood defence works and improvements to Padiham town centre public realm.
"Flood defence works are designed and overseen by the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency has been carrying out detailed investigation and ground condition work, as well as designing the overall flood defence scheme work for Padiham.
"The council successfully secured Lancashire Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal funding to part-fund the flood defence works. As the scheme is developed, the Environment Agency will be invoicing the council for our part contribution to the scheme.
"Burnley Council will continue to work closely with the Environment Agency and other partners to invest in Padiham's future."