Local government minister Brandon Lewis meets Norfolk council chiefs to learn about tidal surge impact

Tom FitzPatrick (left), leader of North Norfolk District Council, with local government minister and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis. Picture: ALEX HURRELL Tom FitzPatrick (left), leader of North Norfolk District Council, with local government minister and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis. Picture: ALEX HURRELL

Saturday, March 29, 2014
8:00 AM

Council leaders from Norfolk communities affected by December’s storm and tidal surge met a government minister yesterday to discuss the recovery process.

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Brandon Lewis, minister for local government, heard how the affected communities had coped in the immediate aftermath of the storm, and the continuing costs and challenges they faced.

The meeting was hosted by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) whose 45-mile coastline was the worst hit. NNDC estimates its repair bill at more than £3m.

Council leader Tom FitzPatrick said the 45-minute meeting had been “useful” and it was good that Mr Lewis, as MP for Great Yarmouth, had direct knowledge of the difficulties faced.

NNDC had stressed to him that what happened had affected the whole coast, not isolated parts, and large sections of uninsured sea defences had been damaged.

After all compensation monies had been received, the council expected to be left with a £800,000 shortfall which would have to come out of its reserves.

“This is something we cannot carry forward if the same thing happened next year,” said Mr FitzPatrick.

“The minister said he hoped to work with us, and listen, and I am taking that as a very hopeful sign.”

Speaking before the meeting, Mr Lewis said he hoped to hear about the councils’ response to the storm and any hurdles they still faced.

During its term the government had spent £3.1bn on flood protection and the recent budget had allocated another £140m to the Environment Agency for flood defence work and further repairs.

Mr Lewis added that the government’s Bellwin compensation scheme had also been redesigned to enable affected councils to claim more.

The meeting was also attended by Nick Daubney, leader of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, and Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader Trevor Wainwright.

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