FIFE Council leader David Ross will write to both the UK and Scottish governments asking for extra help to deal with flooding.

He will request an audit of Westminster’s Bellwin Scheme – an emergency recovery grant programme - and seek more financial help with “weather events beyond those classified as amber by the Met Office”. 

The requests follow a Lib-Dem motion. 

“I don’t think there will be any councillor present today who hasn’t felt the effects of flooding in some way in their wards, and for some of us, sadly, we’ve seen pretty significant events,” explained Councillor Margaret Kennedy, who brought the motion forward. 

“Whilst there may well be differences in the chamber today in relation to how councillors feel matters should be dealt with, I would be disappointed if the essence of the motion didn’t chime with us all.” 

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The council’s newly operational flood resilience grant programme for householders and business owners was welcomed but it was pointed out that flooding is a “bigger picture” issue. 

She said local authorities are responsible for managing flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water caused by severe rainfall. 

Councils are also responsible for implementing and maintaining flood protection actions and inspecting, clearing and repairing water courses to reduce flood risks. 

“That’s a massive expectation on one body, and here lies the challenges,” she said.

“The burden on resources, people and finance is astronomical depending on the local authority area.” 

There was some disagreement between Lib-Dem and SNP councillors about the Scottish Government’s use of the UK Bellwin Scheme. 

According to Cllr Kennedy, the fund has only been used 17 times by Holyrood over the last four years and councils have only benefited financially on two occasions.

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SNP opposition leader David Alexander accused the Lib-Dems of a negative spin, and he claimed that over the past six years, the numbers look very different.

However, the main SNP complaint was that the original motion only targeted the Scottish Government. 

Cllr Alexander's amendment, which was ultimately accepted, stipulated that the UK Government must also be addressed. 

“It’s absolutely true to say many people are suffering and need support. It’s also true to say Fife Council can’t shoulder the financial burden of our communities alone,” he said. 

“It is equally true to say that the Scottish Government should ensure there is adequate funding in place should it be needed, but the only Scottish Government that can do that is one that has full control of its resources.” 

He added: “If you’re going to write to the Scottish Government, you have to write to Westminster as well. You have to write to them because you’re talking about the Bellwin scheme, a UK Government emergency assistance package.” 

Cllr Ross’ amendment simplified other aspects of the original motion. 

He called for officers to prepare a report “on addressing flooding across Fife including consideration of the resourcing, mapping and effectiveness of drain and gully clearing, and overall staffing”.

This was also accepted.