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LGA PRESSES GOVERNMENT FOR MORE FLOOD DEFENCE FUNDING

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The LGA has written to a government minister urging her to argue for a substantial increase in the level of funding...
The LGA has written to a government minister urging her to argue for a substantial increase in the level of funding for flood defence in the government's spending review.

Environment and regeneration executive chair Sandy Bruce-Lockhart referred, in a letter to secretary of state for the environment Margaret Beckett, to the LGA's submission for the spending review 2002 outlining the estimated costs for flood defence until the year 2006 as:

2003/42004/52005/6

£59m£93m£133m

Cllr Bruce-Lockhart said: `The total amount of£285m would make a significant difference to the ability of local authorities when coping with the next bad winter. It is not such a large amount when set against the total local authority spending figures in England, which are currently at over£60bn per year.

`The LGA will be responding to DEFRA's consultation paper on the future of flood and coastal defence funding next month but exchequer funding should continue to be the primary service for flood defence. However, the LGA does recognise that part of the cost must also be funded by the council-tax payer.'

NOTE

The above figures are from the LGA and cover local authority expenditure on flood and coastal protection. They also include an estimate of the Environment Agency's levies over the next three years.

The letter follows:

Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP

Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

House of Commons

London

SW1A OAA

9 April 2002

Dear Margaret

Funding for Flood Defence

Twelve months ago the case for significant increases in the level of funding for flood defence was an obvious one to make after a winter of serious flooding in many parts of the country. In April 2002, with the sun shining and after a relatively trouble-free winter, for which we must all be very grateful, the case is less obvious, but just as important. All the more reason then for me to urge you to argue strongly the case for extra funding for flood defence in your discussions with the Treasury in the current spending review.

The LGA will be responding to your Department's consultation paper on the future of flood and coastal defence funding next month, both on funding and on institutional issues. But I did not want to wait until then, when your discussions on the Spending Review will be well advanced, before pressing the case for additional funding for flood and coastal defences. Your Department's review paper recognises that Exchequer funding is and should continue to be the primary source of funding for flood defence. The LGA welcomes that recognition and we ourselves recognise that part of the cost must also come from the council tax-payer, as it does now.

Your review paper did not discuss the quantity of extra funding that was needed here and there are different estimates in circulation. I commend to you and to the Treasury the estimate in the LGA's submission for SR 2002 of:

2003/42004/52005/6

£59m£93m£133m

The total is£285m, not a large amount when set against total local authority spending in England of well over E60bn a year. But extra provision of this kind would make a significant difference to the ability of local authorities to cope with the next bad winter, when it comes, as it surely will. The risk is that, while the sun is shining, this essential area of expenditure will get lost amidst the bigger arguments you and the Treasury and other Departments will be having in the course of the Spending Review.

These figures are the LGA's and they cover local authority expenditure on flood and coastal protection. They include an estimate of the Environment's Agency's levies over the next three years and we have discussed the estimates with the Agency, as I have discussed the approach in this letter with the Agency's Chairman, Sir John Harman. He is no doubt making his own representations to you but I am pleased to say that he agrees with me about the importance which both the LGA and the Agency attach to achieving a substantial increase in the level of funding for flood defence in this Spending Review.

I very much hope that you will be able to achieve a good result here in the Spending Review. If it would help to discuss the issues, I would be delighted to do so.

I am copying this letter to Andrew Smith at the Treasury, to my fellow councillors, Sir Jeremy Beecham, Derek Bateman and Keith Orrell and to Sir John Harman at the Environment Agency.

Cllr Sandy Bruce-Lockhart OBE

Chairman of LGA Environment & Regeneration Executive

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