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North West Liberal Democrats

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MP asks ministers for emergency funding for community groups and parish councils after Storm Arwen

December 10, 2021 12:09 AM
Originally published by Tim Farron

Local MP Tim Farron has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, asking them to compensate community groups and local councils that supported people in the aftermath of Storm Arwen.

In his letter, Tim asked for the Bellwin Scheme - which sees local authorities reimbursed for 100% of the costs of dealing with a disaster or emergency in their area - be available for organisations in Cumbria.

The scheme was available for Cumbria after Storm Desmond back in 2015 when many local towns and villages were flooded.

Writing to the two Secretaries of State, Tim said: "Alongside Electricity North West (ENWL), the local resilience hubs coordinated through Cumbria County Council set up in key strategic places to try to identify any vulnerable customers and ensure there were feet on the ground to get food and water out to them. They were also ably assisted by the local parish councils and people who volunteered their time to help out following this unprecedented storm which has wreaked such havoc with trees felled and the electricity network out of action up and down the South Lakes.

"I have been massively grateful to these contact centres as they have provided a useful point of information for residents and volunteers have worked tirelessly to ensure that welfare support has gone out throughout the area, doing an amazing job of identifying people who were isolated in their properties, and on many occasions were unknown to ENWL as being without power and often no access to a phone to seek help.

"As you might imagine, with this level of organisation comes a cost of delivery, something which the Local Authorities have no budget set aside to cover and certainly in the case of parish councils and community led organisations, that operate on a shoestring, they have spent considerable sums of money which they simply do not have.

"Can l ask, given the uniqueness of these circumstances, that the Bellwin Scheme is used to grant emergency funding immediately to the various levels of Councils who have assisted, including parish councils and community organisations who have pitched in and greatly helped ENWL to deliver their emergency disaster plan much quicker and more effectively than might have been the case?

"I ask that this be done quickly so funding reflects what a vital role these agencies have played, not only following Storm Arwen but also helping their communities during covid."