Lessons learned from Galashiels flood, says Herd

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A GALASHIELS councillor says lessons have been learned from the flash flood which washed out seven businesses in the town last year, writes Kenny Paterson.

A draft report on the November 22 incident, which caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the properties on Bank Street, shows Scottish Borders Council could have done very little to stop the huge volumes of water which flooded two waterways, according to Bill Herd.

Councillor Herd said: “Around 19mm fell on that day, more than a quarter of the whole of November’s rainfall in Galashiels.

“There is no system that could have coped with that level of water.

“I think the council, as well as the emergency services, did all they could on that day, and deserve credit where credit is due.”

He added: “At this current time, measures are being put in place to ensure that all concerned parties are better prepared for any future flood event to ensure that damage and inconvenience are kept to an absolute minimum.”

In December, one of the Bank Street shop owners, Eileen Randall of designer clothing chain Inis, heavily criticised the council’s handling of the flood which cost her company £4,000.

But Mr Herd believes there has been progress since the incident, and said businesses on Bank Street would benefit in future from being part of the town’s resilient communities scheme, which is currently taking shape.

He told Galashiels Community Council this month: “Owners of premises will benefit from better flood warning information direct to their premises.

“A range of flood prevention products is being made available to shop owners at heavily discounted prices to protect their premises and a number of people have taken up the council’s offer to date.”

He added that Scottish Water now had details of the drain infrastructure, which it did not have on November 22.

And he noted that Scottish Water has been repairing drains in Bank Street and Market Street this month in an effort to ease future flooding events.

The draft report, which is scheduled to be discussed by SBC’s environment and infrastructure committee next month, says all the grills in Galashiels were cleared at noon and 3pm as torrential rain hit the region.

But due to the demands on the SBC workmen across the town, the grills at the Bakehouse Burn and beside the nearby Focus Centre on Livingston Place were unattended for a short time, resulting in both blocking up with decayed leaves.

That led to 12 inches of water pouring into the centre of the town by 4.30pm, which was tackled by 23 firefighters.

The November 22 flood was the fourth to hit Galashiels in the last 11 years.