Last week’s crisis may have only cost firms and councils £7m compared with the £40m estimated cost of the January deluges, mainly because Botley Road remained open, as Sophie Scott, Emma Harrison and Alex Wynick report
THE cost of the floods over the past month could have cost businesses and councils up to £50m.
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said this month’s flooding would have less economic impact than last month’s crisis, as Botley Road remained open but estimates put the cost at between £5m and £7m.
Mr Price said it was thought the flooding in January, in which Botley Road and Abingdon Road were closed for a number of days, would cost £40m.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said the only way to prevent further incidents was for the £123m western relief river to go ahead.
Oxfordshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is asking firms to complete a survey to help them analyse in detail the impact the flooding has had, ahead of next month’s Flooding Summit.
Mr Price, above, said: “The impact (this month) is rather less than in January. The fact that Botley Road was kept open allowed traffic to flow reasonably throughout this week.
“It has meant there hasn’t been that reduction in deliveries. People are not stuck in as many traffic jams and are able to get into work.
“There has obviously been disruption on Abingdon Road and to a lesser degree on Botley Road.
“We think in January it will have cost £40m and this time it will be no more than £5m to £7m.
“We and the LEP are working on a calculation to quantify the impact but we are waiting to hear from the rail companies.
“Obviously the closure of lines and having to put on shuttle buses will have had an impact on us and them.
“Also we have to look at all the extra workers who have been brought in.
The Barley Mow pub in Clifton Hampden has been forced to shut due to flooding
“The fire service has been doing huge amounts of overtime to do the amazing job they have been doing so there will be a cost there.”
Mr Smith said: “The LEP survey will help us get more specific feedback on costs.
“BMW, for example, uses rail more and more, not only for outgoing cars but for incoming parts, so it is critical the rail lines are open.
“The survey will provide hard information that we can use in a bid for funds for the western relief channel, which will significantly reduce the risk of this happening again.
“Unless we get it there’s going to be the risk of floods, especially as they seem to be happening more frequently.
“It will cost £123m and we have about £52m available in DEFRA grants but when we put our case together we are going against places across the country so we have to make the best case we can.”
Graham Jones, of traders’ group ROX, said: “It is just absolutely terrible. I don’t know what can be done. Some firms will seek compensation but where they get that from I don’t know. It could be a reduction in business rates.”
Rebecca Baxter, a spokesman for BMW Mini, said: “The recent flooding had no impact on production at Mini Plant Oxford.
“While there is always the possibility of future flooding on the railway line, this would not automatically affect production at the plant and would only do so if the flooding remained for a significant amount of time.”
Oxfordshire County Council said it was unable to say how many hours of overtime firefighters had worked or what that would equate to in costs.
The Association of British Insurers says the national cost of flooding in December and January was £426m.
Spokesman Stephen Sobey added: “To help customers, some insurers are making interim payments, setting up mobile disaster units or even arranging temporary accommodation.”
The Oxfordshire LEP survey is available here: surveymonkey.com/s/Y9JXXY7