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Devon County Council set for £2.5m flood relief cash from government

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 27, 2013

Devon County Council
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Whitehall is poised to hand Devon County Council around £2.5 million towards the clean-up of last year's devastating floods – though the authority will still foot the vast majority of the £12 million bill.

The authority has announced the county has qualified for flood cash under the Government's Bellwin scheme – cash ring-fenced to help councils following major emergencies – for September and December.

It comes after grant aid for repairs required after flooding in July and November was previously been confirmed by Government. Devon is due to send its first bill to Whitehall today.

Meanwhile, Cornwall Council is hopeful it can also secure cash for the flooding clear-up in November and December so taxpayers in the Duchy alone are not left with the costs of last year's destruction.

The Government support for Devon will only cover a fraction of the estimated £12.2 million of flood damage caused in the county last year.

Devon County Council leader John Hart said storms brought "devastation" to the county. He added: "I am delighted that the Government has recognised the problems that Devon faces in this allocation of Bellwin support.

"We will keep up our campaign to ensure that Devon receives as much help as possible in clearing up the aftermath of these unprecedented storms, and in boosting the long-term resilience of our rail and road systems."

The authority warned it is impossible to carry out repairs on some roads and bridges within the timescale where it would qualify for Government support, and has called for ministers to look again at the Bellwin funding rules to include permanent repairs. Devon and Cornwall were been among the areas hardest hit by heavy rainfall since the summer. The Bellwin scheme has a threshold that means councils pay all costs up to 0.2% of its entire budget.

In recent years, the scheme has helped pay for damage caused by the explosion at the Buncefield fuel depot, flooding in Yorkshire and Cumbria and the riots in the summer of 2011.

Stephen Gilbert, Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Newquay, welcomed the Government activating the scheme for December's floods as a clear sign Cornwall would get assistance.

He said: "It hasn't always been clear whether Cornwall Council would receive this support."

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