n Major holes to be closed up around town n ‘Short-term works better than nothing’

IT HAS been revealed that work on a flood prevention scheme in Hawick will begin this year, starting with three jobs earmarked for priority.

The good news was announced at Tuesday’s meeting of Teviot and Liddesdale Area Committee, where local councillors and around 25 members of the public heard that a long-awaited plan to reduce the risk to Hawick will swing into action this year.

But although eight months of hard work by Scottish Borders Council’s flood protection team and private consultants Halcrow Ltd has produced a detailed implementation plan – a lack of funding means the council can only undertake the scheme’s short-term measures.

Conor Price, SBC’s flood protection team project manager, stated: “There are limited funds available to the council, therefore how we spend the money is critical.”

Yet it was heard that although the cost of protecting Hawick from a serious flood, deemed a one in 75-year event, is estimated at £10.55million - and the deluge of 2005 is asssessed to have been a one in 30 to one in 50 event – the team has concluded that there is significant risk to the town from floods as minor as a 1 in 10-year event.

And by using a hydro-dynamically linked model of the River Teviot through Hawick – which it was heard is one of the best in Scotland – a list of 31 items on a minor works programme have been identified which will ‘improve life’. Mr Price revealed: “Those with the highest priority will be advanced during this financial year.”

The first three measures will comprise the closing of major holes in the walls on Commercial Road and Teviot Road, and raising the bank edge at low spots along Mansfield Road, Duke Street and Glebe Mill. The removal of gravel is near the bottom of the list and after being raised by members of the public, Mr Price explained: “The gravel island below the Cobble Cauld was removed in its entirety in December 2005, and is completely back. The council believes money can be better spent through activities identified in the minor works programme.”

Councillor Stuart Marshall, chairman of the Hawick Volunteer Flood Group, commented: “I’m pleased at last we have managed to secure some sort of short-term works. Like many I’d like to see more money available for a bigger scheme, but something is much better than nothing.”

Councillor Ron Smith added: “At last we’re seeing the specifics of work which could be done to help relieve the anxieites of those affected by flooding and the threat of flooding. Hopefully by next April there will be changes visible on the ground.”