Scottish Water is called to account over Peebles flooding

Flooding at Peebles photographed by Jim Barton

Flooding at Peebles photographed by Jim Barton

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A senior councillor has called for a major investigation into the role played by Scottish Water during last month’s devastating floods in Peebles.

Scottish Borders Council convener and Peebles resident Graham Garvie is concerned at the lack of information coming from the water authority over the causes of the deluge after the town was battered by Storm Frank on December 30.

Scottish Water insisted it did not release water from the Talla Reservoir, which could have exacerbated the flooding.

But Councillor Garvie, who represents Tweeddale East on Scottish Borders Council, told a meeting of Peebles Community Council: “Scottish Water has not fully informed us as to what their duties are and this is a matter that has to be looked into. I intend to take this forward.

“My understanding is that the reservoirs were full and water was not released.”

Councillor Garvie added: “I don’t understand what the Scottish Water authority is - it looks like they do nothing other than supply drinking water.”

Community councillor Graham Mackie said he believed Scottish Water had not released water from Talla Reservoir but added: “They did seem to suggest that they could have released something in advance so that the reservoir wouldn’t overflow.”

Crick Carleton, another community councillor, said Scottish Water was responsible for managing the drinking water reservoirs and that water measures were in place throughout the catchment area.

But he added: “In this case it rained heavily and that was the cause. The issue for Peebles is what we do with strategic planning. People were taken unawares to some extent and the resilience team didn’t quite work the way it was expected.”

Councillor Stuart Bell (Tweeddale East) said: “I suspect that people have a suspicion in terms of what happened at Talla. My own view is that we got caught out in Peebles because the narrowing of the river there means it became a ten feet wave.”

The community council praised the work of the emergency services, council workers and individuals in coming to the aid of beleaguered residents after Storm Frank had ravaged the town.

“The response was nothing short of heroic,“ said community council chairman Robin Tatler.Community council member Julie Shearer was one of the residents affected when the Tweed burst its banks. “Water has never come as far as my doorstep before,” she said “We didn’t expect it to happen and yet we’ve been hit by flooding twice in a month.”

Community council member Anne Snoddy was concerned that residents had been given mixed messages at the onset of the flooding. “Some people were told to evacuate their houses while others were told to go upstairs,” she said.

But police sergeant Duncan Marker said: “I was involved and it was all very well co-ordinated – it was quite busy but it all worked out well in the end.”

The Scottish Government has announced that every household, business or charity directly affected by the flooding will receive a grant of £1,500. Businesses whose trade was affected can apply for an extra £3,000.