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Flood scheme in Government’s hands

Section:  Lockerbie and Lochmaben  | Tags: ,

A CONTROVERSIAL £25 million flood defence scheme for the Dumfries Whitesands has been approved by councillors.

Whitesands stock

An hour-long debate during Tuesday’s meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council saw the preliminary decision made, despite a bid from Conservative group leader Ian Carruthers to scrap the scheme – a move that was defeated by 25 votes to 16.

It will now go forward to the Scottish Government for consideration, with a recommendation that there should be a public enquiry.

The government will decide whether to do that or to refer it back to the council for the less formal process of a public hearing.

Cllr Carruthers feels that the result of the vote has taken power out of the council’s hands and is concerned about the future of the town centre.

He said: “This is a bad day for the people of Dumfries – we’ve been givenatimescale of six months for a decision from the Scottish Government, but I think we could see it drag on for 12 to 18.

“Going forwardIcan see nothing but endless complaints, traffic congestion and effects on business – and I don’t think the town centre will ever recover.”

Former council leader and Save Our Sands campaigner John Dowson opposes the flood scheme and said: “The Labour and SNP councillors have chosen conflict ahead of community – and we’ve not even begun to fight yet.

“We wanted them to reject the scheme as they’ve already wasted millions of pounds and no business on the Sands wants this. We have 345 objections and they also can’t promise the safety of the Devorgilla Bridge-an iconic feature in the history of our town that needs protected.”

However, council leader Elaine Murray is still keen to ensure that Dumfries is not left the only major town in Scotland without a flood defence scheme.

She said: “The decision taken today will allow the scheme to progress to the next stage. Whether it is a Public Local Inquiry or a public hearing, all those who have made representations during the flood order period and wish to maintain these will have the opportunity to present evidence to support their objection.

“As leader, I am committed to making sure that Dumfries is not the only major town in Scotland to not have a flood defence scheme.”

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