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When the wall along the banks of the River Parrett cracks up it means big problems, especially if it happens slap bang splash in the middle of town.
This is what happened on West Quay when 20 feet of wall collapsed into the murky waters along with bits of the road itself.
Firefighters cordoned off the area. Residents were warned to quit their homes. Some of them are still excluded because the area is not considered safe. How did it happen? Torrential rain sparked the collapse, but the causes probably go much deeper. Much of this part of the town was built on the old foundations of the castle - not the most secure footings for modern life! I am determined that remedial work will be conducted quickly and efficiently. That is why I have been holding urgent meetings in London with (among others) the Environment Agency, who have the skills and the emergency budget necessary to take action.
Sedgemoor District Council is also closely involved: http://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=8001
The council has set up a command headquarters to oversee the different agencies handling the situation. Customer services can be reached by phone 0845 408 2540
The wall is still moving. At present it is still performing a role in keeping river water from washing away material underneath the tarmac skin of the road. But at some stage the wall will collapse into the river. What effect this will have on the adjoining road and buildings is unknown, that's why there is still an evacuation zone. This engineering project will fall into different phases. Until the whole wall collapses it is very difficult to work out what will need to be done to provide a long-term solution. But I am assured that a solution will be found.
©2003,2004 Ian Liddell-Grainger. All rights reserved. www.somersetwest.org.uk