I wonder when Mr steve Phillips council big wig casually mentioned compulsory purchase order as a ‘possible option’ at our flood meeting yesterday plucking 80k a hypothetical possible offer out of his arse.
Did he think that would sway us as easily as he said it?
October 2018. Then Feb 2020 our beautiful canalside cottages were devistated by storm Callum then storm Dennis.
3ft of water and sewage filled our homes ruined everything we owned on ground floor.
Electricity cut off.
Well you get the picture.
As a community, a tribe we cleaned supported each other and started again
Our house and our cancer retreat are both on the canal.
Both ruined twice.
My husband jeff almost 60 a hard man, a grafter picks up the pieces and puts them back together. Hes my rock.
Never for a min have we considered leaving the canal.
Through everything we have been through Inhaven’t cried once.
But sat there yesterday in the meeting hearing mr bloody Phillips casually mention compulsory purchace my heart broke.
I was all i could do to stop my tears.
We have spent weeks planning this meeting. Gathering evidence video pictures of the floods.
Lesley and paul putting together a power point presentation.
E mails to all relivent agencies.
Jon and lee all of us setting up a community intrest company to raise funds for the street maybe fix the road a community garden?
Everyday we message each other with progress
The agencies that have treated our community like a hot potato.
Blaming each other.
Making empty promises for preventative measures.
We tried shaming them ITV news filmed us a few weeks ago men, women, kids in the river moving rubble that natural resorces wales had promised to move but hadnt
Colin and mick in their 70s and 80s with wheel barrows.
There on camera for the world to see this is canalside this is our tribe help us.
They promised us they would clear the river bed around the aquaduct in the next few weeks.
Michael Sheen was there to support us. He has been beyond amazing using the platform he has to get our voices heard.
We tell the media he will be there and guaranteed we get air time.
I know that because of who he is.
But please lets not forget that although he is famous and he leads a busy life. We are still socially distancing.
He is also a new dad with a small baby.
But he is much more than that he genuinely cares, and without his support and presence I know that half of those agencies wouldnt have showed up yesterday.
Hes a honorary member of our tribe.
Not just us for so many other amazing causes he really is an amazing human being.
So yesterday getting all of those agencies together in one place we hoped that all the passing the buck would stop.
How hard could it be to get water board, neath council. Natural resorces wales, cadw, local councillors to listen to talk to each other then to come up with a plan.
Make your bloody models write your bloody reports but do it..
Do something do anything
But stop doing nothing
I refuse to be negative I refuse to give up.
So i thought at the very least they will ‘see us’
I was quietly confident we all were
So to cut a long story short.
The aquaduct is a protected monument we knew this.
Fact one its original purpose is no longer possible its in ruins.
Fact two when there is a storm or heavy rain anything washed down the river gets stuck on this aquaduct so its new use is a huge river wide dam.
Causing river to rise in bad conditions like storm dennis two feet over the top of the aquaduct so that its now underwater
The River beaches the wall our street is flooded houses ruined cars ruined and as the fire brigade told us when they couldnt get the boats down the street its a danger to life.
I love ancient monuments castles standing stones ect..
But for the love of goddess if its an ruined aquaduct or someones life its a no brainer
As it is even in good weather its dangerous., kids will be kids and play in the river in summer. If a huge piece of stone falls it wont injur them it will kill.
Like wise another flood like Dennis and we could loose one of our tribe.
Why does money come before people before something as special as canalside?
Its the only place i have managed to put down roots.
To become part of the tapestry that makes or community.
It would cost less to pay us off than help us to build walls.
Remove a dangerous structure clear a river.
Mr phillips suggested we wouldnt be living in fear of another flood.
We wouldnt be living in fear now if you had set the wheels in motion in 2018 after storm Callum.
I came home yesterday sat out side feeding the geese the sun shone walkers passed by enjoying the canal.
I felt sureal going over what had been said at the meeting
My phone rings it a lady in england aware of my work at the retreat newly diagnosed with breast cancer. We chatted for a hour. I know thatvwhen I put down the phone that i had made a difference.
She reminded me of why im here why im doing what i do why the Retreat is so very important.
I thought of Mr Phillips and his family.
Had it entered his head to put himself in our position?
I doubt it.
Well a very long time ago a council house kid from a rough estate in the north of england with an alcoholic father dreamed of living in Wales . Dreamed of having a real family. Of being safe and loved.
I cant tell you how hard the journey was to get here.
Thats another story.
But every step has been worth it.
Its every bit as beautiful as i drempt it to be.
Family yes I have that too.
Its here in Canalside.
Its the beautiful people that need my Retreat.
So Mr steve Phillips from neath port tolbot council.
Natural resorces wales.
Im going nowhere
Paradise is worth fighting for.
The gloves are off.