Cash strapped councils have warned that they do not have the funds to start a multi-million pound flood clean up in the North East.Councils worst-hit by the floods – including Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside – face bills likely to run into the tens of millions of pounds each.
City leaders will this week begin to assess the likely cost of the devastating storm which has left councils facing broken roads, damaged schools and ruined customer service centres.
Treasurers and council planners have already slashed budgets following two years of Government spending reductions, and many of the departments now coming under pressure to help with repairs are severely understaffed.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman visited the region over the weekend to see the damage caused by the flash floods.
The Conservative MP made clear there were no guarantees councils would recover all their funding, with local authorities having to bid for extra resources on a case-by-case basis.
However, when Northumberland faced floods in 2008 the Government funded most but not all of the costs.
Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes said: “We face three areas of work that will almost certainly run into tens of millions of pounds.
“First is the immediate cost of repairs, including staff cost.
"Then comes repairs, which when you look at the homes, roads, pavements, schools and customer service centres hit that will take a lot of money.
“But what we also have to start thinking about now is the longer term changes needed if we are to survive another situation like this.
“We need to look again at the infrastructure we have in place, at the drainage and other issues that might need to be funded.
“All of those together are beyond the means of any individual authority to solve.
"They will take time and we will certainly have to start looking at what Government can do to fund this.”
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