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BHA and Cumbria County Council criticise government funding for flood damage

28 January 2016 by
BHA and Cumbria County Council criticise government funding for flood damage

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has hit out at the government's pledge of £3m worth of funding to Cumbria and Lancashire following the devastating damage caused by recent flooding as "insufficient".

On a visit to the two counties today, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the flood-damaged infrastructure across the Lake District National Park will receive £2m, while £1m will be spent on a PR campaign, co-ordinated by VisitEngland, to encourage British families to spend their Easter holidays in the north of England.

The repair work, which will involve the fixing of bridges, rebuilding of walls and restoration of footpaths, will involve 180 apprentices who will be recruited by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Meanwhile, the publicity funding follows on from the government's £10m programme to grow tourism in the North, a £4m campaign to encourage British families to holiday there, and £500,000 worth of advertising space at Heathrow to promote flood-affected areas.

However, Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the BHA, said that the government had not gone far enough, given that the estimated damage to the infrastructure from flooding in Cumbria and Lancashire amounts to £500m, including £20m in the Lake District National Park alone.

"The announcement of a PR and marketing campaign to promote staycations in the region and support local businesses is a step in the right direction," he said.

"However, many businesses might be still out of action for Easter and therefore we would have preferred to see a longer term campaign to combat the devastation suffered by the two counties."

At the height of the worst flooding in early December, Sue Eccles, managing director of the four-AA-star, 49-bedroom Trout hotel in Cockermouth, which suffered catastrophic flood damage for the second time within six years, said she expected the business to be closed for many months. Floods in the region in 2009 closed the hotel for seven months, resulting in an insurance claim of nearly £5m.

Cumbria County Council has also criticised the government for its "totally inadequate" provision of funding.

Council leader Stewart Young said: "This money is nowhere enough to get Cumbria back on its feet following the floods.

"The government describes Cumbria and the Lake District National Park as a jewel in the crown of the British countryside, and it is. That is why we are urgently seeking a face to face meeting with ministers to secure the amount of money that we need to fund Cumbria's full recovery.

Young added that it was now eight weeks since the floods hit Cumbria and that funding for the region should be the government's "top priority."

Cameron said that it was "absolutely right" that the government does everything it can to make sure businesses "feel supported and ready to receive visitors", while culture secretary John Whittingdale added: "We are ensuring that our tourism businesses are given as much support as possible as they recover from the recent floods."

Some businesses in the flood-damaged areas have reported a drop in bookings of up to 60%. Tourism businesses that have been directly impacted by the flooding are eligible to apply for a proportion of BIS's £6m flood recovery grant.

Government announces £50m fund for flooding victims >>

Cumbrian hotels and restaurants count the cost of Storm Desmond >>

After the floods… >>

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