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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Don’t let this happen to any more homes

WORRIED property owners want action to stop the risk of any more homes plunging into a river.

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Shock: Neighbours are seeking reassurances after raging flood water caused this house to collapse in Egremont

Residents of Vale View, Egremont, fear more houses could be at risk if the fractured weir which led to the collapse of Mill House isn’t quickly repaired.

The bank holiday catastrophe saw the back of the four-storey house crumble and be swept away in the swollen river after the damaged weir failed to stop of water gushing into its foundations. A 48-hour rainstorm turned the river into a raging torrent.

Egremont’s Flood Action Group is calling for agencies to meet Vale View residents to spell out exactly what’s being done to prevent any further danger when the river returns to full spate.

The group is calling on the Environment Agency, United Utilities, councils and Copeland’s MP to agree to an urgent meeting with the residents.

One of them said: “The sooner it happens the better before we get more heavy rain and the level of the river rises again. We want to know face to face exactly what’s going to be done before another house collapses.”

Malcolm Mounsey, who lives two doors from Mill House, declared: “It’s just damned lucky no one was killed.”

Miraculously Mill House was unoccupied at the time, two Sellafield contractors renting the top two floors were away for the holiday break and owners Belinda Taylor and Ken O’Hara were staying at the Blackbeck Hotel, Beckermet, which they run.

Blackbeck itself was flooded on Thursday. Belinda said during the mopping up operations: “I feel I must have done something in a past life.”

Although the owner of the weir has still to be identified, Copeland Council and the Environment Agency are pulling out the stops to keep Vale View safe.

Pat Graham, the council’s director for people and places, said: “The Environment Agency is working to ensure that damage to the adjacent weir is inspected and repaired as soon as possible. This will include sandstone boulders which will patch up the weir as a temporary measure.

“We have offered the support of our building control team to support the agency in undertaking an assessment of the properties at Vale View. The affected residents have all been spoken to personally.”

Part of the gable end remains of the collapsed Mill House which was demolished within 24 hours of its collapse as a safety precaution.

Pat Graham added: “While we are keen to continue work on the gable end of the property we are awaiting a position statement from the property insurers. We’re keen to ensure the works are completed but this is not wholly within our control.”

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