Derbyshire council declares climate emergency after 500 homes flooded
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The council says it has learned many lessons from the recent crisis which will form part of a review into the management of the incident alongside Derbyshire County Council and other agencies.
Gary Smith, the borough council’s director of environmental and community services, said the “unprecedented” flooding had led to a “catastrophic impact for many”.
This includes 500 homes flooded across the borough, of which around 200 were in Sandiacre and 200 in Long Eaton.
He said the authority set up rest centres in the borough’s leisure centres and also arranged emergency accommodation for people who had been left homeless.
The council is now in the clean-up phase, shifting silt and debris from roads, which is a process that will take weeks, he said.
Residents are being given advice on how to claim for flood damage but Mr Smith said some insurance firms are telling people they are not covered for such claims.
This includes claims for damaged household items such as sofas, which the council will collect for free, but some insurance firms want to assess items before they are disposed of.
The council and other authorities are lobbying for flood relief funding for affected households and the Government has announced a pot of money but not yet detailed what the eligibility criteria are or how it would be distributed, Mr Smith said.
Meanwhile, the aftermath of the flooding has also led to the cancellation of the borough’s annual bonfire and fireworks event on West Park in Long Eaton – which itself is part of the flood relief plain.
Mr Smith said the grounds are far too waterlogged to be able to cope with vehicles, equipment and staging, and would not be able to be made safe for the public
Cllr James Dawson, borough council leader, said Dave Bramwell, the authority’s head of operational services and emergency planning lead, was in charge of directing the local flood response while being “surrounded by flood water” himself in Chesterfield.
Cllr Joel Bryan moved a motion calling for the council to formally declare a climate emergency, which he said was clearly needed in the wake of last weekend’s flooding.
He said the council had been rated zero in a national database charting local authority action on climate change.
Cllr Ann Mills, who seconded the motion to declare a climate emergency, said the authority had been ranked ninth from bottom out of all the nation’s district and borough councils on climate change.
She said: “We saw the impact of climate change, to our cost.”
Cllr Greg Maskalick said the recent flooding was clear evidence for why “we gotta do it” and reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change, including waste reduction.
Cllr Wayne Major said the Labour administration was showing how little it was dedicated to protecting the environment by introducing a charge for brown bin collections and advocated for burning garden waste on bonfires.
During a September borough council meeting, Cllr Gordon Thomas, lead member for resources, said residents could throw garden waste on bonfires if they did not want to pay the proposed charge.
Cllr Paul Maginnis indicated that the council was still using plastic cups, using mass amounts of paper during meetings as well as printing a regular magazine, and wagered that councillors had not swapped petrol cars for electric or “stepped away from Greggs sausage rolls and started eating vegan”, claiming it has hard to see how the situation was being treated as an emergency.
Cllr Bryan said he had swapped to vegan sausage rolls and relied on public transport instead of a car, saying the Conservatives were “living in the past”
The climate emergency vote passed with Labour, Lib Dem, Green and Independent councillors voting in favour and Conservative members voting against.