Joan McAlpine has said that the community in Langholm has been misled around the flooding problems holding up development of the care village.
At a public meeting this week it emerged that it was the Council’s flood management team who had zoned a large part of Langholm as at risk – but they had previously blamed SEPA.
Locals attending the packed meeting on Monday were shocked to hear SEPA say that they had not in fact been involved in the process to date.
Ms McAlpine said she was particularly angry because the flood risk study conducted by the Council had not used the local knowledge of Langholm residents.
The one resident at the meeting who had spoken to a member of the flood risk team said they betrayed absolute ignorance of the Esk, the Ewe and the Wauchope rivers, and didn’t appear to know what they were.
Ms McAlpine said:
“It seems the Council has spent money on its own flood modelling, which appears entirely based on computer hypotheses and not local knowledge.
“The people in the room pointed out that the river had not flooded since 1977, and even then no homes were affected.
“And that is despite heavy rain causing serious floods in other parts of Dumfries and Galloway, which have not had the same flood risk label stuck on them.”
Residents shared their views on the ludicrous situation whereby Council planning officials were refusing applications for conservatories citing the flood risk – but had been quite happy to allow the building of the primary school and sewage works in the area, which they were now claiming was out of bounds.
Ms McAlpine and constituency MSP Oliver Mundell agreed to write jointly to the Chief Executive of the Council, who had been invited to the meeting but declined.
They intend to speak to the leadership of the Council, who previously promised to deliver the care village that Langholm desperately needs.
Ms McApine said:
“Whenever I have raised the Langholm economy with the Chief Executive he has pointed to the care scheme as a potential regenerator because of the number of people it would employ.
“I know that’s what John Swinney was told when he chaired a number of meetings about the economy in Langholm several years ago.
“It is simply not acceptable that one part of the Council can claim to support this initiative as members of the IJB, combining health and social care, but elsewhere in the Council they are pursuing a policy that locals say would prevent any future development in Langholm, by designating the town a flood zone on the basis of very poor evidence as far as the locals ae concerned.”