HOPES are high that the Government will sign off a £1.2m project to help to improve flood defences for concerned residents who were badly affected last year.

An announcement is expected to be made by the Environment Agency on Thursday that will see the cash released to tackle problems at Lustrum Beck in Stockton.

The borough council has already secured £415,000 from the North-East local levy to pay for a smaller scheme to reduce the risk of flooding at Brown’s Bridge.

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But the Environment Agency (EA) and Stockton Council have also submitted a bid for £1.2m which would enable further flood defence and alleviation work to be undertaken for the beck.

Scores of family homes were left swamped in September 2012 after Stockton was hit by the worst flooding in 30 years.

Councillor David Rose, the council’s cabinet member of environment, said: “If we get this funding, added to the £415,000 we have already secured from the regional Local Levy, it means there will be £1.6m available to finally carry out major works to help protect properties from Lustrum Beck flooding.

“We saw back in September 2012 the devastating effect when the beck burst its banks and we have been working hard over the last couple of years to try and get the funding needed.”

Council leader Bob Cook added: “Everyone is hopeful we will secure this vital funding.

“We are determined to do all we can to help people affected by flooding and the valuable work by politicians, officers and the Environment Agency highlights that tackling the effects of climate change go hand in hand with tackling social inclusion.”