A COUNCILLOR fears a large reservoir could be ready to burst its banks, posing a threat to Accrington residents.
Lancashire County Council has now stepped in at the 11th hour to inspect the former textile mill reservoir on Hameldon Hill.
County Councillor Tim Ormerod, the Cabinet member responsible for public protection, has ordered the inspection to take place as early as possible.
He fears the reservoir may leak, threatening the welfare of people living nearby.
The former engineer said: "I will move heaven and earth to make sure that the people of Accrington can sleep safely in their beds at night. If this reservoir did burst, then the water would surge out down the moor and anything in its path would be washed away, with the possibility of loss of life and property.''
The reservoir, designed to hold more than 25,000 cubic metres of water, formerly served the Broad Oak printworks, now Caligen Foam. It is situated on the far side of the Accrington Easterly By-pass north of Mitchells House Reservoir.
It would drain down two channels to Broad Oak and to the Plan-tation Street area. It is believed the problem is lack of maintenance to the reservoir banks rather than any possibility that the dam is likely to burst.
The reservoir has changed ownership over the past eight years and responsibility has fallen on the county council within the last two months. It was owned by a private company which was subject to legal action in 1991 after it failed to appoint an engineer to inspect it. It was last inspected in 1996 after Lancashire County Council had again stepped in to check its safety.
When the private company went into liquidation the reservoir passed to the Crown under the Duchy of Lancaster.
County Councillor Ormerod said: "The Duchy exercised rights not to accept liability and this has fallen on to the county council. It is important that people understand we take our role as public protector very seriously.
"The engineering structure of this reservoir has to be safe and inspected regularly. As I am responsible for public protection and rural affairs, I will do everything in my power to avert any possible disaster. Any faults found in the reservoir will lead to remedial action being taken to ensure it is safe.''