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Danger on the shores

PUBLISHED: 12:36 19 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

IT should be six weeks of summer seaside sunshine and fun but we are staring at the ingredients for injury and tragedy. As Felixstowe prepares for the start of the school holidays and braces itself for an invasion of visitors, The Evening Star highlights the very real dangers which are lurking on the resort's popular beaches.

IT should be six weeks of summer seaside sunshine and fun – but today we are staring at the ingredients for injury and tragedy.

Because, as Felixstowe prepares for the start of the school holidays and braces itself for an invasion of

visitors, The Evening Star tonight highlights the very real dangers which are lurking on the resort's

popular beaches.

The town has won three awards for its shores this year – including a prestigious European

Blue Flag.

But a walk along the main holiday beach between Cobbold's Point and Manor End reveals horrifying hazards where a playing child could be killed or maimed.

There are broken groynes, breakwaters with gaps large enough beneath them for a child to crawl through or get trapped, and drops of up to 5ft from the promenade onto the shingle in some places, including where new sea defences have been built.

The condition of the groynes has been causing alarm for sometime – and some people say they could collapse at any time. If a child was underneath at such a moment it would mean a tragedy.

Such an incident would do untold damage to the town's tourist trade and set back the regeneration of the resort by years.

The state of the beaches has been put in the spotlight by The Star's angling correspondent Ian Bowell, who says there has been "alarming deterioration" of the breakwaters.

"I have seen workers boarding up the gaps beneath the groynes to stop people getting under them but the boards don't last long," said Mr Bowell.

"The breakwaters are deteriorating quite rapidly. I am not a structural engineer but I would question whether they are safe.

"When Felixstowe Pier was deemed to be unsafe and could collapse in a storm, it was closed to the public at once.

"But these breakwaters just sit there and no-one does anything about them – it is time some action was taken before it is too late.

"Felixstowe is very dear to my heart and I grew up in the town and spent a lot of time on the beach. I just want my son to have the same opportunities to do that and to do it safely."

Suffolk Coastal council is responsible for the groynes and has said in the past that they are safe and unlikely to collapse, although it is concerned. Beaches do fluctuate and are expected to improve in the weeks ahead. Consultants Halcrow have also been appointed to look at the Felixstowe frontage from Cobbold's Point to Manor End to draw up solutions to the problems.

Tens of thousands of daytrippers and holidaymakers will flock to the resort over the next few weeks, many of them mums from the Ipswich and Felixstowe area bringing their children for a day by the sea.

But the traditional fun of building sandcastles, paddling and swimming will this year have added danger and parents are urged to keep a close eye on their youngsters while on the beach and the prom next to areas of erosion.

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