Local residents asked for views on Grand West Canal breach

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By tinap | Monday, December 17, 2012, 11:38

Communities along the Grand Western Canal are being invited to a fact-finding meeting to establish events that led to the breach of the canal last month. 

Following the flood drop-in sessions which are currently being held across the county to gather information on the November floods, Devon County Council is organising a similar event to focus on the Grand Western Canal.

The session will be held at Halberton Village Hall on Thursday (20 December) from 4pm until 8pm.

Devon County Council is looking to gather as much information as possible on the events leading up to Wednesday 21 November, when there was a breach of an embankment of the canal. The breach drained around two miles of the canal near Halberton, with water escaping into surrounding fields and temporary dams needing to be constructed to prevent further damage.

The authority is seeking the help of people from Burlescombe, Sampford Peverell, Halberton, Holcombe Rogus, Uplowman, Tiverton, and along the entire length of the canal, to build up a picture of events.

Residents will be able to speak directly to staff from local authorities and agencies and those who attend are being encouraged to bring along photographs or video footage taken along or in the immediate vicinity of the canal. Laptops will be available to download information.

Councillor Roger Croad, the County Council's Cabinet Member responsible for the canal, said: "We would like to hear from all of the local communities near the canal and we will listen to what they have to say. Their help will be vital in adding to our knowledge of events before the breach. For example, we want to find out if anyone saw anything unusual in the days and hours before the breach. Did anyone see water entering the canal? Did they notice higher water levels anywhere in particular along the canal? The more information we receive the better."

Councillor Des Hannon, Chairman of the canal's Joint Advisory Committee and County Councillor for Tiverton East, said: "My thanks go to everyone who has taken part in helping to deal with this appalling problem, and I would urge them to take part in this event to help the County Council learn the lessons of what led up to the breach and on the day of the breach itself, so that it doesn't happen again."

Councillor Kevin Wilson, Vice Chairman of the Joint Advisory Committee and Mid Devon District Councillor for Cranmore, said: "This is an excellent opportunity for everyone to share their concerns, information or views on the canal as a whole. This is a community resource appreciated by many and I hope residents will make time to come forward and play an active role. Your canal needs you more than ever before."

The session will be attended by representatives from Devon County Council, Mid Devon District Council and the Environment Agency.

Flood drop-in sessions are continuing to be held by the County Council, Environment Agency and district and city councils. The remaining sessions will be held at Follaton House in Totnes on Monday 17 December from 5pm- 8pm; Exeter Civic Centre on Tuesday 18 December from 4:30pm-7pm; Milton Coombe Village Hall on Wednesday 19 December from 6pm-8pm.

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