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Friday, 24 October 2014

Drainage study should be prioritised

I, LIKE a lot of others, have mixed feelings about Northumberland County Council and how the authority has handled the Duke of Northumberland’s plans for Prudhoe town centre.

It was a particular source of annoyance to me that no one thought to announce the fact there was a procedure in place to hold public meetings on planning applications of such public interest.

Still, the council gave this the go-ahead when it was raised by town mayor Coun. Jennifer McGee and, to my mind, residents were given a pretty fair hearing on the evening in question.

It was, however, a shame that Northumbrian Water were not invited, as drainage, perhaps more than any other issue, is at the forefront of people’s concerns about future development.

Hence, it was a great idea to bring representatives along to the most recent Prudhoe Civic and Community Forum meeting, at which a county council officer was also in attendance.

And, aside from the usual tales of flooding chaos plaguing everywhere from South Road to Low Prudhoe, some good news was forthcoming: the county council may begin a large-scale investigation of the town’s problems, with a view to finding long-term solutions.

The operative word, of course, is ‘may’ - such moves depend on funding, which is scarce and based on stringent criteria - but I, for one, am taking this as a sign that people power is once again holding sway.

In recent months, it has become abundantly clear that flooding incidents are not isolated to one or two hotspots, but increasingly common throughout both residential and commercial areas alike.

A whole-town strategic approach is the only way forward. It concerns, however, that this will take time - we’re talking years, from what I gather - and development in Prudhoe could be immanent.

The county council has to date not revealed any further information on why the Duke’s plans have not been dealt with yet.

If it’s anything to do with drainage, though, then a further adjournment would be justified to look at this issue in the depth it deserves.

By Robin Gilson
Published: November 30, 2011

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