Petition as closure of two highways depots sparks flood response fears

A petition has been launched to save two highways depots from shutting in Shropshire, with fears that closure would result in increased flood risks for one town.

The depots cover county roads
The depots cover county roads

Under the proposals, the depots at Bridgnorth and Hodnet would close, with operations continuing at three main depots in Whittington, Shrewsbury and Craven Arms.

But Councillor Julia Buckley, who represents Bridgnorth West & Tasley, fears that a closure of these sites in order to centralise services would hinder the 24-hour flood response team that works out of Bridgnorth, which suffers heavily from severe floods.

Councillor Buckley has launched a petition with the view of gaining 1,000 signatures, forcing Shropshire Council to discuss the matter at an upcoming meeting on September 23.

Employees are set to start relocating from August 2 before the sites permanently close on September 30.

Councillor Buckley said: "The thing that's really frightening the residents in Bridgnorth is the flood response, as this is the depot that responds directly to floods – they provide sandbags and barrier up areas on a 24-hour basis.

Flooding in Bridgnorth in 2020

"If they were to go it would mean employees in Bridgnorth would have to drive to Craven Arms, pick up supplies and drive back across the river to help people. I think this poses a significant danger.

"If these depots are to close I think not just Bridgnorth, but the whole eastern part of the county will have a deterioration of service."

Shropshire Council currently owns the depots and leases them out to the contractor Kier.

Councillor Buckley said selling the sites could also impact future contracts.

"Shropshire Council is suggesting they sell these sites to asset strip the land and bank the capital," Councillor Buckley said.

"The issue here is that if a future contractor wanted to bid for a different model and deliver the service with a local approach, these sites are no longer going to be available to them."

Councillor Buckley added: "I fear this will result in fewer staff frequenting the east of the county less.

"They won't have the materials they need locally to them and worst of all there's safety issues.

"Another concern is how the winter service and gritting will be delivered. The council's own strategy said the east of the county needed more coverage but by removing these two depots the entire east flank has no coverage."

Petitions can be found in businesses throughout Bridgnorth High Street. An online petition is set to go live through Shropshire Council's portal in the coming days.

For more information contact Councillor Buckley on julia.buckley@shropshire.gov.uk

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