Council's Storm Arwen review reaching its final stages

A council review into the aftermath of Storm Arwen is reaching its final stages.

By Joshua Wright
Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 1:02 pm
Damage caused by Storm Arwen.

Thousands of homes were left without electricity and water services after the severe weather hit the county on November 26 last year.

Earlier this year Northumberland County Council’s communities and place scrutiny committee launched a review to establish what lessons could be learned by all agencies involved, with its findings and recommendations expected to be published in the near future.

A number of evidence gathering sessions have been held, with input from utility companies, the emergency services and council teams.

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Damages from the storms were severe, causing roof tiles to smash cars and litter the streets.

Since the review got underway there have been 85 external submissions – including from residents, town and parish councils, the voluntary sector, councillors, and MP’s.

Cllr Jeff Reid, who is chairing the review, said: “We’re progressing well and are grateful for everyone who has made the effort to contributed so far – whether that’s with written evidence or in person.

“It’s been a very detailed study into all the events of November and December to capture everything that went well and also where things can improve in dealing with future incidents.

“Once all the evidence sessions are complete, hopefully at the end of this month, we will bring together all the information into a final report with recommendations we can action and take forward.”

One area of concern that had been flagged was BT’s plans to phase out traditional copper landline phones and replace them with digital fibre optic ones.

Those plans have now been put on-hold – a move welcomed by the Northumberland County Council Leader, Glen Sanderson.

Cllr Sanderson said: “These plans had caused us some alarm as we know only too well the issues caused by loss of power during Storm Arwen.

“The ability for people in some of our remotest communities to use traditional landlines or public phone boxes, is essential especially in emergency situations like when mains electric fails.

“And while we appreciate the need for technology to develop and the benefits that brings there still needs to be a solution which can work for everyone in times of crisis – including those who’ve already had copper landlines removed.”