Malcolm calls on the Scottish Government to meet its funding commitment
Funding for Flood prevention for Bonnington and Stockbridge Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will reinstate a specific fund for flood prevention work. (S3O-8771)

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment (Richard Lochhead):
Substantial funding for flood prevention is already included within the local government financial settlement. Removing ring fencing has given councils greater flexibility in how they use their resources and has reduced bureaucracy. We currently have no plans to reverse that and, of course, any changes would have to be agreed by the Scottish Government in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

Malcolm Chisholm:
Does the cabinet secretary understand the frustration and anger of my constituents in Bonnington and Stockbridge at the further delays to the Water of Leith flood prevention scheme because of the failure of the Scottish Government to meet the original commitment to fund 80 per cent of the work?

In view of the increasing flooding that we are seeing because of climate change, is it not time to reconsider his decision on a specific fund? Will he give this area of work the priority it requires, particularly in a week in which we all are thinking about climate change?

Richard Lochhead:

I know that the member takes a close interest in the issue on behalf of his constituents who are, of course, very concerned about the impact of flooding on their lives and properties. I fully understand that but - I am sure that he will forgive me for saying this - it is disingenuous of him to lay the blame at the door of the Scottish Government.

Funding is made available through the spending reviews in relation to proposals that local authorities bring forward in the first place. On 13 August, the Minister for Environment wrote to the local council. She explained that we had taken into account the needs of Edinburgh schemes in distributing resources for 2008 to 2010 and she confirmed that, with the agreement of COSLA, we will continue to take into account the contractual commitments for the Water of Leith in the decisions that will be taken later this year on resources for 2010-11 and, crucially, in next year's spending review for the years up to 2014.

I hope that the member can take some comfort that the spending settlements continue to take into account the needs of his constituents and other people in Edinburgh. It is simply disingenuous of him to lay the blame for any delay at the door of the Scottish Government.
December 12th 2009, (Column 22105-6)