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Sands delay bid defeated

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Sands delay bid defeated

A CONTROVERSIAL £25 million scheme for Whitesands has been given the go-ahead.

Councillors have voted by 22 to 12, and with two abstentions, to move forward with the flood prevention and regeneration project.
Speaking at a special meeting of Full Council, council leader Ronnie Nicholson said: “Having voted unanimously to proceed with the scheme a year ago and to delegate to officers’ authority to develop the scheme at considerable cost to a position whereby it is ready to be published under the relevant flood risk management, it really would beggar belief if we suddenly said — ‘we’ve changed our mind’.
“Frankly, it would bring this council into disrepute and throw away a once in a generation opportunity to tackle the flooding problem that has plagued our regional capital for longer than anyone in this room can remember.”
Councillor Nicholson argued that the plan for an earthen bund and wall running alongside River Nith was ‘significantly different’ from early drafts that included a large embankment rather a raised walkway.
He said: “That’s in no small part due to the input from the public in what has been several years of extensive consultation.”
However, concerns continue to be voiced over changes to river views, the removal of 146 spaces in a car park next to the river, and disruption from a construction period lasting up to two years.
Acknowledging a public petition with over 10,000 signatures, Councillor Ian Carruthers had collected the councillor signatures necessary to bring the issue back to full council.
Speaking after yesterday’s vote, Councillor Carruthers said: “I’m really disappointed with the outcome.
“I feel this was a chance that the council could have sat back and reflected on the decisions that were made going to back to December 2015.”
Councillor Carruthers says the council leader’s reference to a ‘significantly different’ scheme was the reason why argued it should be looked at again.
Noting costs on the council’s preferred scheme have now risen from £15 million to £25 million after the changes, Councillor Carruthers added: “One of our predominant reasons for sticking to that option was the cost.”
Councillor Carruthers now anticipates strong public objections in the 28 days after the scheme is published, resulting in a local enquiry.

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