RESIDENTS living in riverside properties in Langholm have voiced their opposition to the proposed flood defences.
The E&L Advertiser contacted and visited a number of people in Mary Street, Frances Street, Caroline Street and Elizabeth Street to ask them for their views and no-one was in favour of this design.
John Basnett of Caroline Street said: “I think they’re a good thing if they’re done properly. I’m not sure they’re necessary.
“I was here in 1977 and no-one got flooded but the park and church were.
“My biggest concern is access to the river. We ride our horses from the Stubholm and cross the ford on our horses but there will be no ford.
“I went to the consultation to look at the plans and the man I spoke to knew nothing about the ford.”
John thought a gate would be okay in the flood wall but, otherwise, his only option would be to ride down to Skippers Bridge. He would not want to ride through the church grounds.
He said he would raise his query during the 28-day consultation period after the flood order was published by Dumfries and Galloway Council.
He was also concerned about surface water flooding and dredging the gravel from the river which hampered the flow of the river so the water backed up.
Roy Park of Caroline Street said: “It’s a waste of money because the river will never flood and I don’t think it’ll be any worse in the future. I didn’t attend the consultations.”
Nancy McLure of Caroline Street said she went to the consultation in February and was “absolutely stunned”.
“Diverting the river through the park is shocking and the heights of the wall through the town.
“People in Langholm love their rivers and views and not being able to see the water is dreadful. It’s going to change the character of Langholm forever. Is it worth it for a 1 in 200-year flood?”
Nancy asked the consultants whether they had been in Langholm during a flood when the water went into the park.
She said: “They didn’t know that. The scheme was all based on computer projections.
“I worry about the pool corner and the damaged wall. The water has been through several times. It doesn’t seem to get any maintenance.
“The water has never been into Caroline Street. The late John Reid, who was 80 when he died, had never seen water over the railings.
“We all have to encompass change but it’s the shocking nature of this scheme.
“It’s the little things, like opening the curtains in the morning and seeing the birdlife on the water. It’s so important. The view in Caroline Street is unsurpassed in all senses.
“Over the past seven months the outdoors and wildlife has become so important to us and to have this view of the river and riverbank no matter where you live in the town.”
Kathleen Baxter lives in Waterside with husband, John.
She said: “I did go to the meetings and I’m very much against the scheme.
“I don’t want to have to stand on Langholm bridge and see walls all the way down.
“The consultants (RPS) also didn’t know that the householders in Waterside owned the land in front of their houses out to the middle of the river. They should have known that.
“It seems to be a very big expense for something which may happen. Like a lot of people, I think they could dredge the river.”
She added: “I think the embankment is far too high. Why is it so high when we’ve never been flooded.
“And I can’t understand why they would put a footpath on top of it. Is it going to be safe?
“It doesn’t seem to make sense and will it infringe out privacy? Nothing seems to be very clear.”
She believed something should be done in George Street because it was the one street with a flooding problem.
She also thinks the gravel should be dredged from under the church bridge, saying: “When we played there as children, there was no gravel.”
May George of Elizabeth Street did not go to the consultations because she felt she didn’t know enough to argue against it but she knew she didn’t want it.
She said: “I’m certainly not in favour of what I’m seeing. I don’t think it’s necessary.
“Maybe something is needed but not to the extent they are going to.
“I’ve lived in Langholm for 71 years and I’ve never been evacuated to the monument. A few years ago they supplied sandbags but it would take an awful lot of water to reach here.
“For those of us, who park our cars in Elizabeth Street, which is all of us, we will still park here so how are people going to get up and down the street with the pavement and flowers.
“I like looking out the window at the river and I don’t want to look at a wall.”
Sandra Graham of Elizabeth Street said she was not keen on it at all for several reasons.
“I feel, and I could be wrong, but during lockdown all those stones could have been removed. A lot of clearing out could have been done to improve the river flow.
“I’ve been in my house for 20 years and the water’s never been to the railings. The last time was in 1977.
“I don’t like the design. I think it’s going to spoil a beautiful part of the river, with its lovely trees and walks. It’ll change the whole look of the place and not for the better.”
She thought the overflow channel through the park would not work.
Elaine Anderson of Mary Street said: “I’ve been here since 1968 and we don’t flood. My aunt was in the house next door from 1933 and she was never flooded.
“In the big flood in 1977 the water came up to the fence below the garden but not into the garden.”
She said that, depending on whether the Ewes came down first or the Esk, the water behaved differently.
If the Esk was first, it didn’t turn round the corner, but went straight across towards the Kilngreen. Often, it was the Castleholm which flooded.
Elaine said the residents rented their gardens from Buccleuch and the drying green was there for everyone to use.
She added: “No-one has said anything about our gardens. We’ve heard nothing.”
“When I went to the consultation, I told them that the gravel should be taken out. They practically scoffed at me.”
Elaine said she remembered a time when, while crossing the suspension bridge, there was water across the whole width of the Esk. Builders used to get the gravel out regularly.
Drew Weatherstone of Frances Street said: “I think it’s going to be an eyesore. If they cut down the trees here, the banking will be lost.”
He and his wife, Louise, also rent their garden from Buccleuch but he has not had any correspondence from anyone about it.
He added: “If they said global warming was going to cause more rainfall, then, yes, but I think there are other things they can do, like measures upstream, in the hills.”