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Kendal Town Council agrees to fund changes to improve flood defences

Flooding in Kendal caused by Storm Desmond

Lib Dem-run Kendal Town Council has agreed to fund changes towards making improvements to the Environment Agency’s flood defence scheme for the town.

The council have agreed to put £35,000 towards replacing the proposed stone-clad wall along Aynam Road, Waterside and Gooseholme with a predominantly glass and steel alternative.

The proposal comes as part of the Town Council’s budget which was unanimously agreed at a full council meeting on Monday evening.

The budget also includes proposals to address issues surrounding climate change and biodiversity, allow for additional CCTV provision in the town and to provide financial backing to Springfield Support, a local organisation which offers support to victims of domestic abuse.

Lib Dem councillor Jonathan Cornthwaite chairs the KTC Flood Relief Scheme Working Group which meets regularly with the Environment Agency and he has welcomed with enthusiasm the decision to pass this latest budget.

Jonathan said: “This commitment from the town council will enable us to unlock further funding from both the district council and the EA and will allow us to address some of the concerns expressed by locals around the flood defences.

“Instead of a stone wall through the middle of town, which would have had a serious effect on the visual aspect of Kendal, we can now look forward to a mainly glass and steel structure which will vastly improve the look and feel of the defences.

“We meet regularly with the EA to monitor the progress of their plans and while we support the overall scheme it’s important that our elected town council listens to the concerns of locals and we achieve the best outcome for the protection of residents, properties and also enable the enhancement wherever possible of the river corridor and surrounding areas through Kendal.”

Funding will be also made available for a consultation into how 20mph speed restrictions in Kendal could benefit the environment by improving traffic flow and air quality by reducing emissions and making it safer to drive and to be a pedestrian in the town.

Paul Holdsworth a local campaigner for “20s Plenty” said: “There’s been a massive shift in public understanding of the climate emergency we face. People are expecting councils to act with real urgency so it’s fabulous to see our town council taking the lead on making Kendal a 20mph town.

“Work done by the town council in 2015 showed that Kendal is not a “special case” – 20mph is popular with Kendalians, just as it is elsewhere in the UK. Already more than half of the largest 40 urban authorities in the UK have a policy of setting 20mph as the default for all their streets, places like Leeds, Bristol and York. 20mph gives everyone more thinking time and more reaction time.

“It’s time to make Kendal even safer, quieter, cleaner and easier to get around on foot and by bike. This is a sensible first step, we have to take it – for everyone’s sake.”

The town council budget comes from a small proportion of council tax and each year the amount is set by councillors following the submission of potential projects by the council’s various committees. This year the town council’s precept will increase by £3.79 per year for an average Band D property to £42.89.

Lib Dem councillor Eamonn Hennessy said: “I think this an ambitious budget, it’s forward thinking and demonstrates our commitment to tackling the causes and effects of climate emergency at a local level as well as continuing to look to enhance the public realm wherever possible.

“I think it shows that as council, we’re listening to residents and their concerns, we’re supporting local organisations, we’re monitoring the flood defence proposals and most importantly we’re making good use of council taxpayer’s money. When you look at other equivalent councils in the area our precept is relatively low and considerably lower than some”.

The budget also includes funding for Christmas lights, sustainable planting to facilitate Kendal’s entry into Britain in Bloom in 2021, a proposed Easter Egg trail and financial support for the Tourist Information Centre, as well as the ongoing Kendal Vision consultation. In addition, support will be provided to enable consultation with regards to the preservation of the K Shoes heritage collection.

Full details of the proposed budget are available on the Town Council website with the finalised budget being made available very shortly.

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