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Alyth residents to ‘take matters into own hands’ to protect town from floods as council admits ‘initial delay’ in storm response

Alan Shaw, Darren Gracey and Helen Cumming of Alyth Community Support Group
Alan Shaw, Darren Gracey and Helen Cumming of Alyth Community Support Group

Council bosses have admitted a delay in getting flood protection measures to a Perthshire community as homes and businesses were battered by storm water.

Perth and Kinross Council said it did not react immediately to the threat facing Alyth on August 12 because crews were focused on protecting the city.

Now residents in Alyth say they are going to “take matters into their own hands” and come up with their own flood protection strategy, amid fears of a repeat.

The admission was made in a response to the Alyth Community Support Group (ACSG), which posed a number of questions relating to the flooding which devastated the region last month.

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The local authority said: “When staff arrived on site, they instructed Tayside Contracts to bring sand bags to Alyth, however the standby crew were working in Perth so there was an initial delay before the crew arrived at Alyth.”

In the council’s own response they say the Alyth Burn catchment area was “badly affected” with 18 properties flooded and a “larger number” of residents’ gardens and outbuildings damaged.

KT Garrett, of ACSG, said her organisation would now be taking the lead in responding to the future flood threat facing the town which was also badly hit in 2015.

She said: “It was well after the horse had bolted by the time the sandbags arrived we were just trying to hold water back.

“They were definitely far too late, the flood had happened.

“In Alyth we’ve accepted that the council are incredibly stretched.”

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She said the group wanted to work proactively as a community to protect homes and businesses.

KT said: “The August 12 event is going to happen again because of climate change so we’ve decided to take matters into our own hands and to have property level protection (sandbags) in Alyth without waiting for the council to take it to us.

“It may not be the ideal situation that we’re having to put these measures in ourselves but it is the realistic solution and we’re asking the council to support us in any way they can.

“We’re interested in working with the council so they can listen to our fears and anxieties.”

The community group will also use three Rivertrack devices in the burn to alert locals to rising water levels.

LONG READ: Five years on, Alyth flood has left ‘scar tissue’ but solutions may be coming

The Rivertrack system will sound an alarm to warn the community when there is a 90% chance the water will breach the banks of the burn and will give them 30 – 40 minutes to get their flood protections in place.

The group is hoping to raise funds to bulk buy further flood protection measures  and will have examples on display at its hub on 19 Airlie Street from September 17 for a week.

Alan Shaw, Darren Gracey and Helen Cumming of Alyth Community Support Group

Perth and Kinross Council said it delivered nine pallets of sandbags to Alyth on the day of the flood and a further two pallets have been given to ACSG.

Residents with sandbags have been advised to retain them for future use.

A council spokesperson said: “We encourage local communities to be proactive in carrying out measures to protect their own properties.

“We are currently in discussion with the Alyth Community Support Group to look at how we can work together in the future.”

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