Pontefract homes came within 'half an inch' of flooding during downpours

The view above the village of Fishwick, in South Yorkshire, after the River Don burst its banks with catastrophic consequences.
The view above the village of Fishwick, in South Yorkshire, after the River Don burst its banks with catastrophic consequences.

Tireless council staff have been praised for their efforts as parts of the Wakefield district came within "half an inch" of homes being flooded last week.

Local councillors said Wakefield's Streetscene service worked overtime to battle deep water on the roads, as a month's worth of rainfall fell within 24 hours last Thursday.

Featherstone councillor Graham Isherwood suggested the government would have declared a state of emergency had the flooding affected the South of England.

Featherstone councillor Graham Isherwood suggested the government would have declared a state of emergency had the flooding affected the South of England.

Streethouse, near Pontefract; Stanley and the South Kirkby areas were among the worst affected, but drainage schemes have been credited with preventing catastrophe.

The Prime Minister's assertion that the floods in neighbouring Doncaster and Sheffield were not a national emergency was criticised at a full council meeting on Wednesday, while councillors expressed sympathy for those areas where the flood water has yet to cease.

Coun Matthew Morley, portfolio holder for transport, said that the contributions of staff and the emergency services had been "amazing".

He said: "They went above and beyond the call of duty. Staff were coming back in from outside and they were soaking, but all they wanted to do was to get back out there and help."

PM Boris Johnson visited South Yorkshire on Wednesday, but has been criticised for not declaring a national emergency after the floods.

PM Boris Johnson visited South Yorkshire on Wednesday, but has been criticised for not declaring a national emergency after the floods.

Labour backbencher Graham Isherwood added: "We came within a whiff whaff of what could have been a really serious event.

"In Streethouse, we were within half an inch of houses being flooded.

"I think we should all pass on our condolences, if you want to call it that, to those villages in Doncaster.

"I see the Prime Minister saying it's not a national emergency. I'd bet a fiver if it was in Kent, it would have been a national emergency."

It has emerged that some Streetscene workers have been "loaned" to Doncaster to help tackle the crisis there.

Coun Morley said that £20m has been invested in local drainage schemes in areas such as Agbrigg, Ings Beck and Westgate in Wakefield city centre since 2007.

"We would have seen those areas flooded if it hadn't been for those schemes," he added.

The leader of the Conservative opposition, Nadeem Ahmed, said the government needs to put more money aside to help prevent flooding.

"The infrastructure we have got in place is around 200 years old," he said "There's only so much that the council can do because of the level of investment that it takes."

"It needs a national investment, and I don't think Yorkshire Water has met that kind of investment that makes sure we don't have these issues."

Local Democracy Reporting Service