I was on site this last week to meet the team who are going to repair and improve the bank between the Anchor Hotel and the bridge, going along the bank to protect Rocksprings Crescent. The workmen contracted to do the job by the Environment Agency are staying in the Railway Hotel and have their diggers and machinery on site on the north side of the river for the work which will take some time. The plan is to extract the boulders and gravel from the centre of the river, put that gravel into gabions (these are steel cages of boulders and gravel), then encase the gabions in a steel protected wall where the old bank used to be. This will then be topped off with a stone and cement finish. The steel wall will go down into the river bed over 2 metres to ensure there is no wash away. This effect will reinstate the old bank, which had been eroding for years, change the nature and direction of the river flow, provide protection to the bridge and Rocksprings Crescent, and ensure the disaster of last winter does not reoccur. The centre of the river will look very different as well.
Why this is important and vitally urgent work is the potential compromising of the bridge, the properties on the south bank, and the sewer pipes that are beneath the surface in pipes on the river bank. Of all the works to be done on the river this is probably the key one.
In addition, Northumbria Water have cleared all the pipes, and sewers locally and are sorting some of the problems they have discovered.
In other parts of the village works are being done to protect the defences on the North Bank and there will be improvements to the path between Rocksprings and the sports fields and the walls around there. I have chased the County council about the state of the Langley Burn which remains very overgrown and blocked. On two occasions last week on Saturdays and Thursday I met with locals affected by the floods and went door to door addressing the issues but my door is always open / email is on, if anyone has any further questions. I am also shortly replying to the recent parish council letter I have received, although events have slightly taken over as the contractors are taking the boulders and gravel off the central river bed. Put simply we are getting there and my belief is that with a fair wind we shall see completed works sorted before the winter.