Thomas Bridge 13 February 2014

Cameron tells councils to stop charging for sandbags

David Cameron has insisted councils should not be charging flood-hit residents for sandbags, despite local leaders claiming fees are not in place.

The prime minister told town halls central government would ‘pick up the cost’ of their flood responses, as reports came through suggesting local authorities were encouraging communities to pay for protection measures.

Local government minister Brandon Lewis similarly emphasised there was ‘no reason’ for local authorities to be charging residents for sandbags.

‘We have spoken to every local authority in the country and are confident that there are more than enough supplies to meet local needs, with volunteers and military support on the ground to make them ready,’ Lewis said.

‘There is absolutely no reason for any councils to be charging residents for sandbags. Councils are able to claim any costs for their emergency response to flooding back from government under the Bellwin scheme.’

However, a spokesperson for the Local Government Association said such claims were ‘inaccurate’.

‘Councils are not charging for sandbags for residents and businesses at risk of flooding,’ the spokesperson said. ‘It is vital that sandbags are distributed to where they are needed most and this is what local authorities are doing,’

A spokesperson at Christchurch BC told LocalGov that while the council was selling ‘flood sacks’ to residents who wanted to ‘take a preventative measure’, the town hall would ‘not be charging if there is an emergency situation’.

Strategic director at Christchurch BC, Neil Farmer, said: ‘We do have sandbags available for appropriate use when an emergency is called and these will be made available.

‘It is neither reasonable nor practicable to provide an unlimited supply of sandbags to properties which have not been identified as at risk of imminent flooding,’ Farmer added.

Building and engineering company Kier has donated over 32,000 sandbags and over 1,355 tonnes of sand to communities in Somerset, Surrey, Aylesbury and the Thames Valley.

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