Herald praised for town defences battle

THE Morpeth Herald has been praised by councillors for keeping up the pressure for improved flood defences.

Around 1,000 homes and businesses were wrecked in the Morpeth flood of September 2008, but the wait goes on for a new flood alleviation scheme to be installed.

The Herald led a campaign earlier this year calling for the work to begin as a matter of urgency following news that funding had not been allocated for the project.

And almost 4,000 people signed our petition demanding that the promised scheme, including town centre defences and an upstream floodwater storage system, goes ahead.

At last week’s full meeting at Northumberland County Council, members agreed to set aside up to £12m from the authority’s capital budget to provide half the funding required for the work.

And councillors were keen to thank a number of organisations for the part they played in raising awareness of the issue.

Coun Glen Sanderson set out a motion which noted how well attended public meetings had been as residents helped unite the council to bring about the work.

And it also recognised the continued coverage by the Herald in keeping the scheme high profile.

Coun Sanderson said: “It seems a long time ago that the River Wansbeck was so different, causing chaos and carnage to property and people’s lives.

“We could have put it to one side, but because of persistent efforts of local residents and this council, we have been united politically in putting this at the top of our agenda and continuing to keep it there.

“I’d also like to thank all the work of the local Press who have been very helpful in their local campaigns, especially the Morpeth Herald, so that we do not forget this is an important issue.”

Other organisations thanked for their work were the Morpeth Flood Action Group, Morpeth Town Council, the Environment Agency and the three emergency services, while volunteers were recognised for their support and Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery was praised for bringing the issue up in the House of Commons.

Herald Editor Paul Larkin said: “Given the terrible circumstances Morpeth found itself facing in 2008, it was only natural that this newspaper would lead the charge for improved flood defences for the town.

“Local newspapers have a vital role to play in reflecting the concerns of their community and fighting their corner when no one else will listen.

“We only hope that the authorities listen to local views and implement the plan as soon as possible.”