‘We just want our town back’

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ARound 400 Stonehaven residents flocked to Mackie Academy on Tuesday night to challenge Aberdeenshire Council over the issue of flooding in the area and to hear what the local authority plans to do about it.

The stormy meeting was attended by representatives from a variety of agencies, including SEPA, Scottish Water, Grampian Fire and Rescue and Grampian Police.

On the night, the newly-formed Stonehaven Community Flood Action Group took their turn on the stage as their chair Greig Walker - who has been flooded twice - laid out their aims and explained: “Basically, we just want our town back.”

He said that “urgent” action had to be taken to protect Stonehaven and was met with applause when he said: “We don’t want to be here again.”

The group has a number of things which they hope to achieve and are planning to work with other agencies.

They also hope that formation of the group will give residents in Stonehaven a voice and will help them to deal with the issue directly.

The council’s director of infrastructure services, Stephen Archer, also gave a presentation about what had been done since 2009 and how plans will now progress.

They explained to residents that there was a set process that must be follwed when developing flood alleviation measures.

Therefore, the council hoped for work to begin on a flood alleviation scheme in Stonehaven by February 2015 - but this was assuming that everything “goes to plan”.

Head of roads and landscape services for Aberdeenshire Council, Philip Mckay, explained that the alleviation measures would take flooding in the town to a ‘‘one-in-200-year event’’ and that protecting homes from flooding was the responsibility of the owner.

Residents used the question-and-answer-time to vent their frustration at the local authority and also quiz them on more immediate plans which could be put in place to deal with the threat.

For the coastal floods, residents questioned the shingle situation at the beach and questions were also asked about the drainage of the Bervie Braes into the River Cowie, the blocking of culverts at the Glasslaw Burn, overdevelopment in the area and use of the Arbuthnott drain.

At the closing of the meeting, council chief executive Colin Mackenzie, who chaired the evening, said that he felt that there had been a good discussion.

Heassured those in attendance that the local authority would look at suggestions made by residents.