RESIDENTS in Pickering breathed a sigh of relief when the floods hit Ryedale last week.

For the damage to property was said to have been nothing like it has been on previous occasions – thanks to work being carried in connection with the Stop the Flow project.

The town’s mayor, Coun William Oxley, said: “There was some water damage to property but it was not as significant as it has been in the past and that must be down to the anti-flooding work that has been carried out so far.

“We are hopeful that by this time next year the work on the bunds and the Stop the Flow project will have been completed and Pickering will be relatively safe.

“But we all need to keep up the pressure on all the partners to ensure the necessary funding is in place. Given what the Government has been saying about flooding we hope that any shortfall will be found quickly to ensure the work goes ahead.”

At one point water surrounded the Beck Isle Museum and was lapping at the walls of the building where many items had been moved from the ground floor.

In Sinnington, where flooding has also occurred on a regular basis during heavy rain, people said there was some flooding again this time but not nearly as bad it has been in the past.

Meanwhile, councillors are to be asked to back plans to release £950,000 towards new flood defences for the Pickering area.

The Pickering Flood Storage Scheme would see a large reservoir created in the Pickering Beck catchment area, with the aim of holding water and reducing the flood risk to residents.

The work could cost as much as £2.56 million although potential ways of reducing this to between £1.8 million and £2 million are being considered.

Ryedale District Council’s policy and resources committee will next week recommend the authority formally releases its financial contribution which is £150,000 more than the sum originally agreed.

A report by corporate director Paul Cresswell said estimates of the work needed on the defences and how much they will cost have been completed, with £1.5 million coming from the district council, North Yorkshire County Council, the Environment Agency and other partners. However, it said that although the scheme would cope with a “one-in-25-years” flood, it would not protect Pickering against severe floods such as those in 2007, and there was a need for “management of public expectations” about what it will be capable of.

“Uncertainty remains regarding both the extent of the funding gap [between the £1.5 million from partners and the final cost of the project] and the potential to reduce the costs,” said Mr Cresswell’s report.

“However, lack of certainty over funding by the council could, in itself, stifle funding opportunities coming forward.”

The report said that, with the financial commitment from the district and county councils, the scheme’s partners were “in a strong position to seek further funding” and talks were continuing.

Possible cost-cutting measures include savings on materials and using Environment Agency teams for some of the work.

Maintenance costs are expected to be about £14,000 a year over the 50-year lifespan of the defences.