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posted 27 Nov 2011, 14:43 by Westover Labour   [ updated 4 Dec 2011, 04:07 ]

As autumn turns to winter in Bridgwater, the carnival night quayside catastrophe is starting to hit home to the former residents and businesses of West Quay and local authorities alike. Westover Ward Councillors have been increasing the pressure on Sedgemoor District Council to deal promptly and efficiently with the situation as high tides again threaten the stability of the quay wall, leaving residents unsure of whether they can return to their homes and businesses unsure as to whether they'll ever trade again.

The quay wall collapsed at about 1615 on Friday 4th November after torrential rain as the town prepared for its annual carnival. Sedgemoor District Council took charge of the situation setting up  its Civil Contingencies Unit and using the nearby Arts Centre as a temporary base for evacuees from West Quay.

The stretch of wall that gave way from the Watergate Hotel to the Customs House either side of Castle street - where medieval sewers and tunnels ran directly towards the river, continued to hang suspended over the Parrett moving slightly each day until stopping a week later having settled into the mud awaiting the next high tides and the possibility or otherwise of its continued collapse.

After the wall had stopped moving some residents were allowed back and some businesses  permitted to re-start trading however for others it has become a saga of wait and see with

Sedgemoor District Council is unsure of what the wall will do and therefore what to advise or indeed instruct the people to do next. Now they're in such a quandry they have sought legal advice themselves regarding their powers of denial of access and a second opinion on the safety of the unoccupied properties.

Residents have been re-housed by SDC in the YMCA and although some have returned to their riverside homes, others have given up the idea of ever returning and have sought rehousing elsewhere with the help of the Local Authority.

Businesses that are on Sedgemoor's thin grey line of uncertainty are still waiting as to whether they can go back and re-start trading in this key Christmas period or to give up the ghost and make claims on their insurance. SDC Estates Valuer Tim Mander has been helping to find alternative premises for businesses who could re-locate. So far only Parrett Furnishings has been found a new home and that's in Highbridge.

Westover Ward Councillors called an initial meeting of the affected residents and businesses with Sedgemoor officers and have been monitoring developments ever since.