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Louth Area Committee: Flood Alleviation Works And Dementia Friends

March 24th 2015

A pothole on St Bernards

This pothole on St Bernard's Avenue has since been filled in.

A meeting of the Louth Area Committee took place on 23rd March at the Salvation Army on Church Street, attended by the public and representatives from local government. There were also a couple of notable presentations.

First up, the committee looked at a number of issues that had been raised during its previous meeting in November. Councillor Sarah Dodds mentioned that the work to improve road markings on the Louth Bus Station so that the disabled access to the pavement is marked "KEEP CLEAR" is now complete.

Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders commented on loose branches obstructing St Mary's Lane, noting they were still there.

Public forum

A member of the public commented on disabled access in the town centre on market days near Jassie's sweet shop, saying of the market traders, "They're putting stalls right the way across. They seem to be coming further and further out."

Jason Garrett spoke about the overgrowth from the Northfields roundabout up to Cordeaux Corner. "I've been bringing this up since a year ago," he said. "It's still not been dealt with."

Councillor George Horton raised the issue of speeding on St Bernard's Avenue, and of cars parking on the pavement there, saying: "The cars are obstructing mobility scooters."

"It's a very difficult situation," Councillor John Hough said. "There have been various changes to try to improve it, but clearly there should be more." Talking of changes to the road layout suggested during the meeting, he said: "You are talking a very expensive business." However, he did agree to taking the matter up again. With regard to the problem of people blocking the pavement, he said "there's no excuse for anybody to be blocking people."

A member of the public spoke about the difficulty of using a mobility scooter on St Bernard's Avenue. "One of the problems is, you have to retrace your steps because there are no drop kerbs," she said, noting that 4mph scooters aren't allowed on the road.

"You can't see the traffic from the right or the left if there are parked vehicles on the pavement," another member of the public said of the area near the bowls club on Birch Road.

Councillor Adam Grist criticised the "dreadful road surfaces" on St Bernard's Avenue. "There is perhaps an opportunity to look at the whole of that road, because I would have thought that it would soon need resurfacing anyway. There's an opportunity to get some designated parking as well."

Another member of the public suggested that turning the wide pavement along St Bernard's into a parking area would "cost an arm and a leg." He had a better idea. "Why can't a white line be put down, with a walking area one side and a parking area the other side?"

I wrote to Councillor Richard Davies about the state of the nearby Abbey Road, also mentioning St Bernard's Avenue, on 11th March. I informed the meeting about his response, but it's simpler to quote from the email he sent me:

"At this moment in time there are no plans to resurface Abbey Road. The main issue is that the construction consists of concrete bays which are overlaid with bituminous material, and it is the construction joint between the concrete bays that is causing the potholes as a result of differential settlement between the bays. This is the same construction as St Bernards Avenue, part of which we recently repaired using a specialist technique at a cost of approximately 100,000."

Ouch! Bearing in mind that St Bernard's Avenue is one of Louth's main arteries I think it deserves attention. As you can see in the picture, the potholes tend to form in lines across the road because of the way it was made. I hope the county council will recognise the importance of maintaining our roads, because to let them fall into an extreme state of disrepair will be a false economy.

Flood Alleviation Scheme

Andrew Barron of the Environment Agency made a presentation about the progress of the River Lud Flood Alleviation Scheme. He began by praising the "team effort" of local bodies such as the town, district and county councils for providing funding.

In Louth, there will be two flood storage areas, each capable of holding about 100,000 cubic metres, one of them slightly smaller than the other. The aim is to reduce the flow of water through Louth to no more than seven cubic metres per second. He described the plans as "an embankment with a hole in it."

"The majority of time you won't know it's there," Mr Barron said, explaining that they aimed to minimise the impact on the visual environment.

Due to the volume of water to be held, the works must be built in accordance with the Reservoirs Act, Mr Barron explained. This means there will be tight controls on the nature of the material they use to build it. The work will also be inspected every six months. Burrowing animals are a potential problem, so the embankment will be covered with chain-link fence (laid flat, if I understood the diagrams accurately).

The structure will have an automated weed screen to prevent it getting blocked, as well as a backup pipe. There will be a debris catcher which amounts to some large posts which are a lot like telegraph poles. There's also an innovative way of regulating the flow of water, which Mr Barron described as "like a ballcock in a toilet."

The Environment Agency are hoping to get planning permission around April, so that they can start work in June 2015, with the aim to finish the scheme by Spring 2016. It will cost in the region of 6.5 million to build, with 500,000 of that coming from ELDC and 6 million from LCC. In addition, Louth Town Council will be contributing around 11,000 per year in ongoing maintenance.

"We want to make it as cheap as possible to run," Mr Barron said. The workings are mechanical rather than electronic.

There were lots of words welcoming the scheme from councillors around the table. Councillor Grist asked about the flow of water through Louth at seven cubic metres a second.

"That is the river Lud brim full without causing damage to properties," Mr Barron said. He went on to explain that it would take a day to two days to get rid of the water stored in the two baths.

"Would that mean Hubbards Hills would still get flooded?" Councillor Makinson-Sanders asked.

The answer was yes. "Protecting people's homes is key," Mr Barron said.

Councillor Dodds asked about disruption to highways or public footpaths. In response, Mr Barron explained that they would try to get as much of the material as possible from right next to the embankment, saying: "The material is there in the valley anyway." Regarding footpaths, he said: "We will be able to maintain an access."

Councillor Laura Stephenson expressed concern that if it flooded at certain times of the year it would cause more problems for farmers than other times. "In that money, does that include compensation for farmers?" she asked.

"It does," Mr Barron said.

"It's really good news we're almost there," Councillor Hough said. "It's very welcome." He raised the issue of the south side of the town in 2007, where he said "some of the watercourses were not quite as clean and clear as they might have been." Following the work done on the river after the 2007 floods, he asked about the Environment Agency's plan for longer-term maintenance.

Mr Barron agreed to refer that question to a colleague.

Councillor Makinson-Sanders asked about protected species.

Louth has water voles. Natural England had "bent over backwards" to help them get a license, according to Mr Barron. That will enable the Environment Agency to do the works without delay. They will trap the water voles and move them to another part of Lincolnshire.

Dementia Friends

Rachel West made a presentation about Dementia Friends. About 850,000 in the UK are living with dementia. Ms West is prepared to give one hour sessions about ways people can help those who are suffering from dementia by being aware of the condition and the way it can affect people. She aims to hold a number of free one-hour workshops in order to spread awareness. "It's about learning little things you can do," she said.

For instance, dementia affects the way people perceive distance and colour, and one way people with the condition can be helped is through installing toilet seats in a contrasting colour, such as red, so that sufferers can see them more clearly. Similarly, using plates that contrast with the colour of the food, and not using patterned plates, is another way to help people with the condition.

Becoming a dementia friend isn't the same thing as being a befriender, it's a lot less involved. Ms West is looking to do talks, so if you would like to attend one or if you know of a group who would be interested in hosting one she can be contacted on rachtc171@yahoo.com. The website Dementia Friends has further details, and a video that explains a bit more about helping people with the condition.

Cycling

On June 25th the British Cycling Championship will come to the area. It will be held at Cadwell Park, and renowned cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins, Emma Pooley and Scott Davies should be defending their titles.



 


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