FOR those readers who are concerned, some would say incensed, by the cavalier attitude of council leader, Simon Henig, together with his cohort of Labour Party councillors at Durham County Council, the attached photograph shows the Sands car park in the centre of Durham City, adjacent to the flood prone River Wear, opposite the Radisson Blu Hotel.

The photograph shows the tree lined car park, with cars and tourist coaches in situ, before it was ‘butchered’ and the trees removed to make way for the new council HQ.

These trees were known to alleviate flooding as well as absorbing pollution from passing vehicles. Reason enough to build the new council HQ at some other, more suitable location, many would agree.

However, although felling 97 mature trees at a location that is known to flood is bad enough, an early risk assessment, by the Environment Agency for Durham County Council, dated February 19, 2019, is significant.

In their report the Environment Agency were very candid and identified the danger to the public, as well as to the emergency services, should they be required to respond to a flooding event.

Additional flood coping measures were recommended, including flood proofing with barriers for ground floor doors and windows, a sub-floor void for collecting excess water and an emergency evacuation plan.

Before the building of the new council HQ on the former Sands car park goes any further, I now invite council leader, Councillor Simon Henig to arrange a public meeting to explain, in detail, the rationale of spending in excess of £50m of public money to build a new council office block, together with additional flood defences, on a flood plain, in the face of climate change, when other much more suitable building sites are readily available close to the centre of Durham City.

James A Cowan, Belmont, Durham