Newly elected MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, Finlay Carson, visited Newton Stewart last Friday and spoke with businesses affected by last December’s floods.
Finlay met with Flood Forum representative and local businessman, David Inglis, and received a progress update on the proposed flood prevention measures. These include reinforcing and raising the town’s Sparling Bridge and repairing the damaged part of the riverside wall.
Specific concerns were raised about the timescale of the proposed works and local businesses wanted an assurance that it would be completed in plenty of time to avoid a repeat of last year’s disaster.
Businesses have also been presented with unaffordable insurance excesses that threaten their livelihoods in the event of more flooding.
After his visit to the town Mr Carson said: “Last December’s flood in Newton Stewart completely devastated Victoria Street. It was therefore good to see that many businesses have reopened, or are in the process of doing so.
“I was also delighted to hear that the town is beginning to see an increase in footfall and a steady return to normality.
“Unfortunately, there are still a small number of businesses that have not yet reopened and some that may not reopen at all. I hope we can find a way forward to see these premises back in business and all of Victoria Street thriving.
“However, I am aware that businesses are worried that the flood prevention work will not be finished before another winter.
“They have also been hit with unaffordable insurance excesses that threaten the very existence of their business if they had to go through another flood.
“I now intend to write to Dumfries and Galloway Council and seek assurances regarding the timescale of the flood prevention programme in order to give local businesses peace of mind. The local community need to be fully appraised and kept up to date on progress.
“Furthermore, I will be speaking to the appropriate Government department to ask if anything can be done to reduce the insurance burden on those affected by flooding through no fault of their own.”