A TOWN on the brink of sinking now has a new problem its river banks are collapsing.
Urgent repair work has been called for before the bank along the Dane in Northwich crumbles.
The bank lies at the rear of businesses in the town centre and its pathways are used heavily by pedestrians.
With memories of last year's floods firmly in their minds, members of Vale Royal Borough Council's executive group have voted to take immediate action to fix the problem.
Members agreed on a £218,000 repairs scheme, rather than a temporary fix at a cost of £75,000.
Their decision followed an assessment into the stability of the river banks by consultants WS Atkins. The findings revealed two main problem areas.
The first lies next to Dane Street Bridge, at the rear of the doctors' surgery in Watling Street. Masonry supporting the public footpath behind the surgery has partially collapsed. The consultant's report concluded this could give way completely unless urgent repairs are undertaken.
A second section of bank, next to 55/57 Chester Way by Victoria Bridge, was also highlighted as a trouble spot. Here the bank is crumbling because a horizontal supporting steel sheet has collapsed.
The report also advised the remaining lengths of river banks between the two bridges be repaired, but this is less urgent and could be phased in over a number of years.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Brian Jamieson said: 'There is a possibility that the river bank could collapse so we are taking immediate action. We have to get the work by the doctors' surgery done before winter because this is the area most at risk. You can't imagine what would happen if it did collapse.'
Landscapes officer Martin Thornhill stressed there is no immediate danger to the public. 'The two sites are not in such a perilous condition that is has to be sealed off,' he said.
'However, we are constantly monitoring the area so if it does become dangerous in any way, we would take steps to close it.'
There is already a scheme under way to prevent the town centre sinking after it was found that worked-out salt mines were in danger of collapse.
At the height of the floods last year, businesses around the Bull Ring suffered hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage when the rivers Dane and Weaver burst their banks.
A month earlier, in October, a 20-year-old man was swept to his death after falling into the Dane. Shaun Kettle was swept away close to The Arches and his body recovered two weeks later in the Weaver close to Owley Wood.