Prime Minister David Cameron has unveiled a new package for damaged defences in Yorkshire, as further rains have been predicted in parts of the UK. A major portion of the funding will be reserved for York, where hundreds of people were forced to leave their homes.
Cameron pledged a £40m ($59.1m) package to repair defences along Derwent, Aire, Calder and Ouse – as well as River Wharfe, where an ancient bridge collapsed, Sky News reported. The government is spending £280m over the next six years on flood defences, the prime minister said, and added: "It is to protect thousands of houses from flooding in Yorkshire as part of our £2.3bn investment to protect 300,000 houses across the country. I have seen at first-hand the devastation caused by flooding. And that's why this work to repair and improve flood defences is so vital."
The current package is in addition to the £50m already sanctioned to local authorities to fix problems that were caused by Storm Desmond in the north-west region. Funds were shelled out primarily for coordinating cleaning up efforts. Previously, the government had promised to provide cash to those affected by the storm.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called the new package a "short-term fix". His constituency in Cumbria was among the worst affected areas. He asked whether the small down-payment of £40m was actually new funding.
A report by the Association of Drainage Authorities pointed out that leaving local authorities with a small budget left them with no choice but to keep maintenance work at a minimum level. Besides, it warned that "failure of assets and networks was more likely as extreme weather events became more frequent and unpredictable".
According to the BBC, the Met Office has issued an "amber warning" and people have been asked to remain alert and prepare for heavy downpour on Sunday (3 January) and Monday. It has also issued a "yellow warning" for parts of Northern Ireland, south Wales and south-west England.