Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis talks about the clear-up operation in full swing across the county following the floods earlier this month.

The flooding clear-up operation continues across Derbyshire and our road workers and contractors are out across the county repairing the damage caused by a month’s worth of rain falling in two days.

While the water has subsided, it’s left a trail of destruction behind it, including potholes, cracked and damaged roads, landslips, silted bridges, blocked drains and gullies and broken footbridges.

We know around 200 properties have been affected and 116 businesses, and this must be devastating for everyone involved.

We’ve got as many of our road workers and contractors out as possible helping to clear up the damage but it’s a big task and will take time.

While this vital repair work is carried out, we’re asking our residents to bear with us as other routine roadworks may have to wait for a while.

Some of the damage caused will take longer to put right than others but be assured we’re doing all we can to put things right.

Flooding can have a devastating financial cost and, if residents or their businesses have been hit in this way I hope they are aware of the financial help they may be entitled to.

We’ve made £100,000 available to set up the Derbyshire Floods Hardship Fund for Residents and the Derbyshire Floods Business Hardship Fund, and homeowners and businesses affected can still apply.

Local charity Foundation Derbyshire has also set up a Derbyshire Flood Relief Appeal and, subject to funds, is currently providing grants of £200 to directly affected households.

People who would like to support residents and businesses can also make a donation to the same appeal at www.foundationderbyshire.org

People who cannot use their business premises or whose home is no longer habitable due to flooding may also be entitled to a Council Tax reduction or business rates relief from the Government. They can find out more at www.gov.uk/flood

There’s a wealth of advice and help on our dedicated flooding webpage and I’m encouraging anyone who’s been affected to visit it if they haven’t done so already at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/floodinginderbyshire

I know it’s been a distressing time for many of our residents and I hope, if you’ve been affected, you’ll take advantage of all the help and support that’s available.

Support continues for communities affected by floods

Bakewell Road, Matlock, 8 November 2019

As Derbyshire continues to experience heavy rainfall, we’re continuing our efforts to help communities recover from flooding and prepare for further disruption.

Staff have been working around the clock alongside the police and other agencies in tough conditions to support those affected after almost a month’s worth of rain fell across Derbyshire in just two days last week.

The effects of prolonged and heavy downpours were felt in communities across the county, including along the Derwent valley where the river burst its banks causing heavy flooding and the tragic and most saddening death of former High Sheriff of Derbyshire Annie Hall who was caught in flood water. Our thoughts and condolences are with Annie’s family at this most difficult of times.

A number of road closures are still in place across the county due to flooding and more could be put in place if current conditions persist.

We’re keeping our website updated with the latest information so please check online before you travel. And if you do need to travel, please don’t ignore road closure signs or drive into flood water.

We understand the impact that properties flooding can have on residents and small businesses, particularly in the run up to Christmas, which is why we’ve made £100,000 available to help those affected get back on track.

Anyone who was evacuated or whose home flooded will be eligible to apply for a one-off payment of £104 through the Derbyshire Floods Hardship Fund for Residents by calling the county council’s contact centre Call Derbyshire on 01629 533190.

And businesses with up to 50 employees can apply for an emergency payment of up to £300 through our Derbyshire Floods Business Hardship Fund. You can find the application form on our website.

We want to do all we can to help affected communities get through this difficult time and we’ll take stock after the waters have receded to see what additional help we can give businesses that may be necessary to ensure the local economy can recover quickly.

There is no doubt our climate is changing and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent.

It’s a global issue but recent events show Derbyshire is feeling the effects. Just a few months ago, Whaley Bridge was evacuated when Toddbrook Dam threatened to give way following heavy rain.

Clearly action is needed and we’re taking a stand with two significant carbon reduction policy documents to be considered at a meeting of Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet on 21 November.

One details how the council will reduce emissions from its own buildings and activities, working towards a target for the council to have net zero carbon emissions by 2032. And the second document sets out how the council will working with Derbyshire local authorities to deliver on the 2015 Paris Agreement, to which the UK is a signatory.

But our work doesn’t end here. As an Enterprising Council, we recognise the importance of changing as the world changes. Climate change is an ongoing issue which needs our ongoing attention and we’re planning to move further and faster than any local authority in the UK to achieve a sensible, credible and measured plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Your Council Your Voice

We’ve just launched a major survey – Your Council Your Voice – and we’re asking Derbyshire residents to give us their views on a wide-range of issues which affect us all every day.

It’s a new-look survey as this year we’ve combined our annual budget consultation with questions about a range of council services.

We want to know how often you use them, how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with them, and what you think about Derbyshire as a place to live. What do you think about your local area, are you proud of our county, do you think it’s safe and do people get on and work well together for the good of your community?

You’ll still be able to give us your views on council spending, how we prioritise our services and how we use our budget, and importantly, we’re asking how you think we could save money or raise additional revenue. We’re hoping you’ll take this opportunity to give us your ideas.

Last year nearly 7,000 of you took part in our budget consultation and gave us your views which was brilliant.

And because we’re covering a wider remit this year we’re expecting even more of you to have your say.

It’s really important to us that we know if you think we’re getting it right, so please take the time to fill in the questionnaire.

We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Tackling climate change together

Climate change is an issue at the top of all our agendas, which is why I was delighted to accept an invitation to take an active part in a Climate Change Summit organised by the Peak District National Park Authority.

Working Towards a Zero Carbon Peak District National Park was the theme for the day – with local leaders and industry experts coming together under one roof to discuss the challenges and put forward their ideas and practical solutions.

I was very interested to hear what other organisations are doing to work towards reducing emissions and achieving net zero carbon by 2050 or before, and what is very clear is that this must be a mutual effort with agencies working closely together.

Partnership working to achieve common goals is something the county council is very much on board with, and I was pleased to be able to address the summit and speak about what the county council is already doing to cut its carbon emissions.

I took the opportunity to announce Derbyshire County Council’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan which sets out our plans to achieve net zero by 2032, and our intention to adopt the Environment and Climate Change Framework – a commitment to work with Districts and Boroughs to achieve net zero by 2050 for the whole of Derbyshire.

I was able to outline our future plans and explain how we aim to meet those important targets, with a realistic, sensible, credible and measured programme of change, which I believe puts Derbyshire County Council ahead of the curve compared to other local authorities.

I emphasise the word `realistic’, because a huge effort and major behaviour change is required from all parties – that’s agencies, businesses and households.

Energy use must be cut by nearly half, the amount of energy being produced from renewable sources needs to quadruple and transport and heat will need to be electrified – but it’s the timescale that is all important.

The council’s plans are achievable over the timescale we have set out, but there is much work to be done when it comes to the county as a whole achieving net zero by 2050.

While I understand there is a desire by some to work faster and bring the date forward, to do so would require change at a speed which I believe is unachievable and not within the means of most organisations, businesses or households.

A good example is to look at a typical household which would have to make immediate changes for us all to achieve carbon zero by 2025. A new heating system would need to be installed, cars would have to be electric or given up in favour of more sustainable transport, cookers and lights would need replacing in favour of more energy efficient appliances and there would be a need to change to a largely vegetarian diet.

Our plans were first clearly laid out in our Derbyshire Climate and Carbon Reduction Manifesto which we launched in May, containing 14 pledges including how we will reduce the council’s own greenhouse gas emissions.

The manifesto also covers our aim to have electric vehicles forming part of our fleet by next January, our energy and waste strategies and the work we’re doing with local businesses. It even covers the work we’re doing with our counterparts in China around coalfield remediation and renovation.

Back to the Climate Change summit, where it’s important to note we’re already working closely with the Peak District National Park on climate change programmes. In particular a green transport initiative encouraging low emission travel and sustainable public transport, and the planned installation of several electric charging points.

The summit itself provided an opportunity for useful group discussions which helped to draw out actions which will deliver the greatest emission reductions across the National Park, and I certainly took away some ideas that we could consider for the county council and the county as a whole.

Following events like the Climate Change summit, it’s vital that we all move from words to action – and we will certainly be doing this over the coming months and years.

Five year financial plan

We’re constantly looking at how we can provide vital services for Derbyshire residents in the most efficient and effective way, putting value for money at the heart of all we do.

It’s essential as we continue to face huge pressures on our budget.

Although it’s been said that austerity is ending, the fact remains that we must still find savings of £63million over five years. That’s on top of £257million savings achieved since 2010.

Our updated Five Year Financial Plan sets out how we aim to balance the books up to 2024. Like authorities across the country we’re facing significant budget pressures on many services including children’s social care, special educational needs provision, highways maintenance and waste.

That’s why we’ve welcomed the Government’s Spending Review which is expected to hand us extra funding in areas where it’s most needed – social care for adults, young people and children and special educational needs services.

The updated Five Year Financial Plan will be considered by our Cabinet this week.

Action Grants update – community success

Our Action Grants scheme has now been running for over a year and we’re really starting to see the benefits in our local communities.

Members of our Cabinet have been out to see some of the projects for themselves and have been really impressed with the variety of work that’s going on and the commitment of Derbyshire residents to improving their local areas.

I had the privilege of going along to see the work of the South Wingfield Local History Group for myself.

Through their tireless fundraising and a bit extra from their Action Grant they now have their own war memorial in the village. I’m really proud that we could give them some support for this worthwhile project.

We’ve now given Action Grants to more than 460 groups across the county – which is a total of £375,000 so far.

You can hear some of the groups talk about how Action Grants have benefited them in some short videos which are now on our website – and there’s still plenty of time for groups to apply.

All the details can be found at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/action

Proud of #DerbyshireSpirit response

I visited our newly set up information hub at Whaley Bridge Primary School yesterday and have to say, was hugely impressed by the incredible community spirit I saw in action.

The way people are pulling together to help each other makes me proud of Derbyshire – and proud to be Leader of the county council – and we’re trying to make things easier for residents and businesses too by announcing our crisis fund to help people in financial hardship.

A massive thank you to everyone who has been involved in managing the emergency response, the relief effort and supporting everyone who has been affected by this incident.