COUNCILLORS called for more scrutiny yesterday on the potential scaling back of phase three flood defences.

The Environment Agency gave a presentation to Carlisle City Council's Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee in December, providing an update on flood defence improvements for the city.

Members of that committee joined former Carlisle MP Eric Martlew, and former deputy leader of the council Elsie Martlew in their concerns about the pausing of phase three improvements.

A council's scrutiny committee gives elected members the opportunity to hold decision-makers to account, ensuring that their area recieves the best possible services.

Speaking at the city council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Panel on Thursday, Councillor Colin Glover asked that a further update from the Environment Agency on flood defence work is given at a future meeting.

He said: "Two meetings ago we had the Environment Agency here, I think all members were really quite concerned about the phase three pausing and the fact that it could take many years to come up with a new plan."

Phase one of flood defence improvements has seen embankments raised from Tesco Carlisle to Trinity School.

Works are currently taking place around the Old Laundry Culvert and the second phase will involve improving existing defences from Trinity School to Dacre Road.

But councillors heard that phase three of the scheme, which would have bolstered defences in Denton Holme, Willow Holme and Caldew can not be completed as planned with the original business case.

Works to determine what protection can be achieved in those areas is likely to take 18 months.

Speaking on Thursday, Cllr Glover said: "I think it would be really useful if we could have that phase three of flood protection coming back to the panel during the coming year."

Cllr Glover also asked that the Carlisle Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan is discussed at scrutiny as well as an update on the fate of the Turkish Baths.

Stewart Mounsey, Area Flood and Coastal Risk Manager for Cumbria said: "We understand residents are keen to have these defences, but it is important we get it right.

"Flood schemes are often large, major infrastructure, requiring extensive modelling and consultation with local communities; meaning they can take years of planning to deliver.

Mr Mounsey said: "Construction of any defences must also not alter the water’s flow or adversely affect other communities.

"We will continue to work closely with residents of Denton Holme, Willow Holme and Caldew as well as our partners to deliver the right defences that will provide the best standard of protection. We will keep members of the public up-to-date through every step of the process."