The Director of Environment and Regeneration presented the above report, a copy of which had previously been circulated. She advised that the purpose of the report was to update Members on progress with riverbank strengthening works at Claudy and Sion Mills.
Councillor McHugh expressed his disappointment at the postponement of the proposed works to Sion Mills Riverside Walkway. However, it was obvious from the report that this was unavoidable and it was probably more sensible to have the works at Claudy completed prior to having the works at Sion Mills carried out. He stated that the issue in regards to Sion Mills had been raised by Councillors for the area on numerous occasions in recent years. It was regrettable that having the necessary approvals in place it had not been possible for the works go proceed at this stage. He said it was paramount that these works were carried out as soon as possible.
Councillor Edwards also expressed his disappointment at the delay in the works being carried out given the lack of green space in this area and felt it was important to have the upgrading works carried out to restore this to a level of safety for the general public. He anticipated that the works would be carried out early in the new year. He referred to a meeting he had early that week with Council Officers regarding the possibility of extending the walkway and greenways in respect of the wider area.
Alderman Hussey concurred with the remarks made by Councillor McHugh in regards to the fact that this was an ongoing issue particularly in the Sion Mills area spanning back to the 2017 floods when part of the embankment eroded causing a serious health and safety issue along the riverside walkway. He said it was extremely disappointing to find out that these works would be delayed until Spring 2021 because of restrictions placed on Council by others. He queried the rationale in regards to being at the commencement stage and being told the works could not proceed. He understood that water levels would increase during the winter period but certainly anticipated that come the early Spring these much needed works would commence.
The Director of Environment and Regeneration shared Members’ frustrations in regards to this matter and said she would endeavour to have these works commenced as soon as possible.
The Head of Capital Development and Building Control stated that fundamentally the issue in regards to the commencement of these works was because of the Covid pandemic. He pointed out that the works had been tendered in sufficient time to ensure they would be carried out during the most advantageous period over the summer when water levels would have been at their lowest. However, unfortunately due to Covid it had not been possible to appoint a contractor to be on-site and carry out the works at that time. By the time Council were in a position to appoint a contractor and they were able to begin work it was late summer/early autumn when water levels were unfavourable. The contractor was unwilling to commence works for health and safety reasons and because there were no guarantees that the works would be completed by the deadline date given by the Rivers Agency. It was anticipated that when this prohibition ended in the spring and subject to suitable water levels the works would proceed. The contractor had given assurances that he would be onsite to complete the works at no additional cost to Council.