Thousands sign up to block Whitesands bund

PEOPLE-POWER must prevail in the fight to prevent the controversial Whitesands flood bund being built.

This was the reaction of Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell as he sifted through almost 3,000 petition forms so far returned opposing the project.

Mr Mundell organised the petition on behalf of numerous Dumfries area constituents, including many business people, who contacted him to raise their concerns.

He backs demands by opposition councillors for Dumfries and Galloway Council to now drop the £25 million scheme funded by both the local authority and the Scottish Government.

This would save large amounts of public money, he points out, which would otherwise be eaten up through the planned public inquiry into the scheme which is due to start in early November.

Opponents say the massive flood barrier, with path on top, would hide iconic views of the river and Devorgilla Bridge to most people in the busy Whitesands area.

They are also critical of the negative impact on town centre businesses through years of disruption during the construction process and long-term loss of convenient car parking spaces.

Mr Mundell and his Westminster colleague Alister Jack, MP, back lower cost options, supported by many constituents and the Save our Sands campaign, including dredging and a moveable barrier which rises automatically with water levels.

As he helped his team open envelopes this week containing returned forms, Mr Mundell said: "You only need to look at the petition piles growing to appreciate the strength of local opinion.

"We only distributed the form to the parts of Dumfries which are within my constituency but the response has been astonishing.

"The council highlight the large amount of Scottish Government money going towards the bund but that should not be a reason for building something which will damage the town for generations.

"The reality is that if the bund does go ahead, the £25 million of public money used will stop more worthwhile projects being funded in the area in the future."

The petition calls on Scottish Government Ministers to reject the scheme stating that there was no genuine consultation and that the widely-held local opinion was that the project was 'not fit for purpose.'