HEREFORDSHIRE Council leaders have put aside £1m to set up a emergency community relief scheme to help those affected by the floods.

The council decided to use some of its reserves to offer financial help to local people and businesses ahead of any Government help.

Businesses and residents affected by the floods can apply for grants of £2,500 and £500 respectively via the council’s website

Finance and corporate services cabinet member Liz Harvey said the most important thing is to help those who desperately need it.

She said it was a leap of faith as the council does not yet know what help will provided by the government.

“We need to get on and provide the support anyway, the important thing is to help those who desperately need it,” she said.

Coun Harvey also said the local authority is preparing other measures to help the community clean up and recover from the flood damage.

She did warn against complacency as more rain is forecast and river levels may rise again.

“Don’t relax, stay vigilant take a look at the government advice, be safe and look out for one another we need to pull together as a community on this.”

Flood-hit households in Herefordshire were not eligible for the £5,000 grant announced by the Government following the autumn floods.

Government funding was made available through local authorities from the end of November in the wake of severe flooding in parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands.

The grants are there to help those affected pay for property improvements to protect them from future flooding — but Herefordshire was left out.

“When floodwater enters your home it doesn’t matter whether you are in Yorkshire or Herefordshire,” coun Harvey said.

“We’re doing everything we can as a local authority to respond to the emergency situation and provide people with the support to help clear up afterwards.

“But there’s only so much we can do. It’s a little galling when one part of the country receives funding which, from our point of view, is no less justified in the context of the emergencies that we’re facing.”

Council leader David Hitchiner said they will need to work with other agencies to prevent future flooding.

“I’m not sure that building flood damns is going to be the solution. We need to look at long term issues such as climate change, farming methods and planning.”