December 26 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
A council facing a bill of more than £3m after its sea defences were ravaged by the December storm surge is set to recoup most of the cash.
Flood-hit households and businesses will be able to apply for up to £5,000 to make their properties more resilient in the future.
The government’s Repair and Renew grant scheme is open to people whose homes and businesses were flooded between December 1 and March 31, regardless of where they live.
Applications need to be made through local authorities.
The purpose of the grant is to help people with the cost of buying and installing new measures to reduce the chances of flooding in the first place, or limit the damage from future flooding.
Even if property owners have already fitted new measures following the recent flooding they can still apply for the grant retrospectively to cover the cost.
The deadline for applications for the Repair and Renew grant in north Norfolk is May 31.
North Norfolk District Council is also running the Business Support Scheme helping small and medium sized businesses that suffered significant losses in December. Up to £2,500 can be applied for.
The authority will be applying a council tax discount and business rates relief for up to three months for affected households and businesses.
All those known to have been affected will be notified when their council tax/business rates information is sent out within the next two weeks.
Surgeries about the various schemes will be held this month.
They will happen between 2-4pm at the Maltings in Wells on Tuesday April 15; Walcott Village Hall on Wednesday April 16; Blakeney Village Hall on Wednesday April 23; and Bacton Village Hall on Thursday April 24.
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North Norfolk District Council will be receiving £765,000 from the Environment Agency after applying for £1,041,000.
Waveney District Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council have also received £80,000 and £90,000 respectively from the EA.
NNDC leader Tom FitzPatrick said the grant was “excellent” and was hopeful the authority would receive a further £276,000 from the EA next year.
But despite the windfall and opportunity of receiving half the £3m bill through insurance and government schemes, the council could have a shortfall of more than £500,000 which would come out of its general reserves.
The council leader said the reserves were to be used on a “rainy day” but was confident the money would not be passed onto taxpayers following “fruitful” discussions with the government.
Mr FitzPatrick said: “We are very pleased about the £765,000. We have been working since the surge happened to make sure ministers and the government know the impact on our coast. We are continuing to speak to them so we can strengthen our sea defences.
“Given the extent and quality of the recovery work that has been achieved since December I would have been very disappointed if they (EA) had not approved funding for the work.
“Even with this EA grant it is likely the council will still be out of pocket to the tune of over £500,000 as a result of December’s events. We are continuing to have a dialogue with central government regarding further financial support and about how such a situation could be avoided in the future, to take the pressure off hard-pressed local government funds.”
The grant comes after Mr FitzPatrick met Brandon Lewis, minister for local government and Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth, as well as representatives from Norfolk County Council, and the councils for King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, and Great Yarmouth in Cromer on Friday.
Mr FitzPatrick said there should be more “joined up thinking” between coastal authorities and the government for future flooding events.
Pauline Porter, chairman of Walcott Parish Council and Walcott Community Resilience Co-ordinator, said: “It is absolutely brilliant about the EA money. North Norfolk District Council has a huge amount of coast to look after.
“The council has spared no expense to help people in Walcott and Bacton. It has cost the council dearly.”
She added in an ideal world there should be additional defences built in the North Sea to protect homes and businesses in the future but that would require “an open cheque book”.
Mark Johnson, environment agency coastal manager, said: “We are pleased to have been able to make this prompt payment to help fund these important emergency works. The money came from the additional funds made available by government for recovery from recent extreme events.”
The £765,000 will be spent for the 2013/14 financial years and if the £276,000 was granted it would be spent in the 2014/15 financial years.
Each year the council, which covers 45 miles of coast, receives about £1.75m a year in general reserves.
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