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Friday, 01 August 2014

£29m cost of clearing up after Cumbria floods

Clearing the devastation caused by Cumbria’s catastrophic 2009 floods has cost taxpayers £29 million.

November floods photo
A rescue in Cockermouth

The figure has been revealed by the county council three years on from the chaos that wreaked havoc across the county.

Tony Markley, councillor responsible for highways, yesterday praised the work that continues to be made in repairing the damage.

It is three years to the day on Monday since floodwaters washed into homes and businesses in places including Keswick, Cockermouth and Workington – claiming the life of policeman Bill Barker, who was swept to his death when a bridge over a river collapsed.

In the immediate aftermath, the council estimated it would take three years for Cumbria to “get back on its feet”, a target Mr Markley said has been achieved.

Northside Bridge, in Workington, where PC Barker was washed away, was officially opened by Princess Anne last month and the final major infrastructure project – Camerton footbridge – is almost finished.

“I am informed that, subject to weather conditions and river levels allowing final work to be done, Camerton footbridge should be open to the public on November 30,” Mr Markley said.

In addition in the Workington area, there is the new iconic £1.7m Navvies Bridge, in Workington, the restoration of the Calva Bridge, and replacement or repairs to various bridges in Cockermouth, Low Lorton, Bouthray, Little Braithwaite and Broughton High and Cut.

Mr Markley said: “No-one should underestimate the magnitude of the work. The cost for highways and bridge repairs alone is £25m. Most of that has been funded through the Department for Transport’s recovery fund, but the direct impact on Cumbria County Council’s highways budget is an estimated £4m.

“Add to this the £4m needed on Public Rights of Way, and the £1.3m that has cost the county council directly.”

Mr Markley was keen to put aside the financial burden though, as he recognised the community efforts and hard work of council staff and contractors.

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