Government to consider emergency funding for councils

SCOTTISH Government Ministers will consider emergency financial assistance for local authorities to help deal with the costs of the storm damage last weekend.

Aberdeenshire Council and The Moray Council have made representations to the Scottish Government to activate the Bellwin Scheme as a result of the severe storms over the weekend.

The Bellwin Scheme is a discretionary scheme to give financial assistance to councils who faced an undue financial burden as a result of large-scale emergencies.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead saw the effects of the storms first hand when he visited the harbours of Lossiemouth, Peterhead and Fraserburgh last Monday.

Mr Lochhead said: “The extreme storms which hit the east of Scotland over the weekend were truly exceptional and left a trail of debris and damage, some of it significant.

“As the full impact on local communities continues to be assessed, we stand ready to provide urgent assistance and the Scottish Government will consider applications from local authorities for emergency funding through the Bellwin Scheme.

“On Monday I saw first hand the magnitude of the damage and met with many involved in the emergency response.

“As well as major ports, small harbours and vital coastal defences that local communities rely on have been hit by the storms.

“With the clean-up work ongoing, I commend everyone for their hard work and assure them that the Government is committed to helping communities get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

Finance Secretary John Swinney will consider all eligible expenditure under the terms of the Bellwin Scheme when formal claims have been received from the Councils.

Mr Swinney said: “It is vital that nothing should deter local authorities from moving quickly to recovery and repair of the extensive damage caused by this weekend’s storms.

“That is why I have agreed to activate the Bellwin scheme which provides support to affected councils to assist with immediate and unforeseen costs of dealing with the aftermath of the severe weather.

“We look forward to working with those councils who apply to the scheme to ensure that resources are made available as appropriate.”