EDITORIAL: Wallsend a living symbol of storm’s legacy

IT’S fitting that in the week in which Newcastle marks a decade since the June 2007 storm, we’re reminded that its legacy is still with us.

In Wallsend, some believe the town centre has never recovered from the flood waters that devastated businesses and left much of the suburb under water.

It brings home just how significant that storm was on the fabric of this city. 

But what of the failure to completely deal with the damage?

From the accounts of those who were part of the business community at that time, Newcastle City Council does not emerge a hero.

In fact, there is a level of bitterness attached to the way the council handled the fallout from the storm.

This council is trying to remedy that, and has turned its attention on the suburb with a new public domain plan that, it says, will help give the Wallsend town centre a facelift and make it a desirable destination once again.

The plan also includes an attempt to address the most pressing concern for those in Wallsend – the flood risk.

By raising the three bridges in the town and removing pylons, the hope is that it will ease the threat of flood waters.

This is a major job, and the council has asked the state government for financial help to get it done.

But there is a broader significance to the feeling of those in the western suburbs that they’ve been forgotten. How much time do our civic leaders really spend thinking about places like Wallsend? Certainly, residents have reason to hope it’s more time than they spend talking about it.

This isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault. Newcastle’s city centre, in the past few years, has been undergoing dramatic change.

But the residents of Wallsend and suburbs like Stockton, Beresfield and Lambton, don’t want to be forgotten.

On this score, this council deserves some credit.

One of its priorities has been developing public domain plans for these suburbs that can, hopefully, inspire revitalisations on a smaller scale to the one we’ve experienced in Newcastle’s inner suburbs.

It was 10 years ago today that Newcastle was hit by an extraordinary natural disaster.

Hopefully by the 11th anniversary, we’ll have a clearer picture of how Wallsend can finally shake off the storm’s legacy.

Issue: 38,512