Cash boost for cam­paign

Fight­ing fund hits £4k

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - NEWS - Kenny Mac­Don­ald

A fight­ing fund to com­bat the hotly-dis­puted White­sands flood preven­tion scheme has hit £4,000.

The money is ear­marked by the Save Our Sands group to pay for pro­fes­sional ad­vice from ar­chi­tects, town plan­ners, hy­drol­ogy engi­neers and lawyers.

Or­gan­is­ers have set a dead­line for to­day to reach a tar­get of £5,000 to put to­wards fees.

And SOS spokesman John Dow­son said: “We still have a cou­ple of pledges to come in and they were for big amounts.

“So, we are fairly hope­ful we can reach our tar­get. The do­na­tions so far have been ter­rific.

“And it’s ab­so­lutely won­der­ful that all walks of the com­mu­nity have con­trib­uted to the cause.”

Dum­fries and Gal­loway Coun­cil have pro­posed build­ing a per­ma­nent bar­rier to cope with flood­ing, but SoS and busi­ness bosses on the wa­ter front have ob­jected.

They in­sist that a £25mil­lion bar­rier would block the scenic views of the River Nith and Devorgilla Bridge and have also protested that the three-year timescale to com­plete it would cause chaos.

The SOS group have taken out two ad­verts in the Stan­dard ap­peal­ing for pro­fes­sion­als to help them out ahead of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s sev­en­week pub­lic in­quiry which starts on Novem­ber 6.

And mem­bers are ar­gu­ing that a cheaper ver­sion of flood pro­tec­tion is avail­able and with less dis­rup­tion to the town’s res­i­dents and vis­i­tors.

They also crit­i­cised the coun­cil splash­ing out £90,000 on solic­i­tors’ fees to an Ed­in­burgh firm.

Mr Dow­son said: “We have al­ready had le­gal ad­vice while town plan­ners and engi­neers from out­side the town also of­fered help and sup­port on a vol­un­tary ba­sis which is won­der­ful.

“But we are go­ing to need much more in­tense pro­fes­sional sup­port to fight this and our re­sources would never match the £90,000 the coun­cil has al­ready spent on big city lawyers.

“How­ever, we have to bat­tle on for the sake of the town and its res­i­dents.”

The SOS ad­verts have high­lighted what they in­sist will be “three years of dis­rup­tion” caused by work on the coun­cil’s planned pro­tec­tion scheme.

They also claim costs could soar to £35m and added: “Many car park­ing spaces would be lost if the scheme went ahead. The car park­ing on the White­sands serves many busi­nesses, in­clud­ing those on Bank Street, Fri­ars Ven­nel, Ir­ish Street and, of course, the High Street.

“The coun­cil have not car­ried out an im­pact as­sess­ment on the High Street and re­tail trade – which is in enough trou­ble al­ready.

“The op­posers will be urg­ing the coun­cil to con­sider the al­ter­na­tives avail­able. In par­tic­u­lar, they will be draw­ing at­ten­tion to the fact that the coun­cil’s scheme is a 365-days-a-year bar­rier, as op­posed to al­ter­na­tives that rise with the wa­ter level, there­fore only ob­struct­ing the view of the river for those 24 to 48 hours a year when flood­ing ac­tu­ally oc­curs.

“More than £4m has al­ready been spent on the scheme since 2011, no­tably on ar­chi­tects and lawyers from out­with Dum­fries and Gal­loway, even though there are nu­mer­ous ex­cel­lent pro­fes­sion­als liv­ing within the re­gion.“

Ap­peal­ing for cash John Dow­son of Save Our Sands

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