More than 3,000 sign up to flood fight

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MORE than 3,000 people have signed up in just three weeks to fight for Morpeth’s flood defences.

The Herald launched a petition last month to call for the promised £17m flood alleviation scheme to be reinstated in the 2011/2012 budget following an announcement from the Government that it was to miss out.

Support for our campaign has been phenomenal and while petition forms are still being collected from businesses and community groups, more than 3,000 signatures have already been counted.

In addition, first, middle and high school pupils have put pen to paper to have their say on the deferral of the flood scheme, with 145 letters submitted.

The petition and letters will be presented to Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery for him to take to London next week.

Copies will then be given to Environment Agency Chairman Lord Smith, who has previously backed the Morpeth flood scheme, and to Government Ministers.

Town councillor David Parker, who chairs a Morpeth working group on flood insurance, said: “Morpeth is up against it, but it is fighting back.

“There is understandable anger in the town about the decision of the Environment Agency to defer the flood alleviation scheme, but Morpethians are not just taking this on the chin, they are writing their letters, signing petitions and sending a clear message to the Environment Agency and the Government that the town deserves better.

“Everyone is rallying round, including young people, epitomised by the very moving letters in the Morpeth Herald this week.”

The Morpeth Flood Action Group offered huge support with the campaign as it collected signatures at a stall in Sanderson Arcade over two weekends.

Businesses, churches and community groups also helped out by displaying the petition at their premises.

One of those was Morpeth Tandoori in Chantry Place, which collected more than 150 signatures in just one weekend.

Owner Abdul Muhit was one of those who saw his premises wrecked in the 2008 flood, and his new home in Mitford Road also flooded at the time.

He said: “The flood was the worst thing to happen. We hope it never happens again because nobody can afford that.

“I have been in business for about 30 years and have never had the stress like that. We got a lot of help from our customers, who treated us like family, and I’m really grateful for that, but every time we get rain the stress starts again and everybody is worried sick.

“We never asked customers to sign the petition, it was just there, but as soon as they saw it they asked to sign it because everybody feels the same — we need the flood defences.”

Anyone who still has petition forms should hand them into the Herald office in Newgate Street as soon as possible, or call us on 01670 517171 for them to be collected.