Danger warning for sea defences
PARENTS were warned today to keep a close eye on youngsters on Felixstowe beach amid fears a child could get trapped in the rocks and be drowned.One rescue service chief says the rock groynes and reefs are a children's playground and is constantly worried someone will be trapped in an incoming tide, and warning signs are inadequate.
PARENTS were warned today to keep a close eye on youngsters on Felixstowe beach amid fears a child could get trapped in the rocks and be drowned.
One rescue service chief says the rock groynes and reefs are a children's playground and is constantly worried someone will be trapped in an incoming tide, and warning signs are inadequate.
The problems were highlighted when Evening Star angling writer Ian Bowell's pet dog Connie went missing on the beach at Cobbold's Point and was found caught between the rocks with the tide rising.
John Cresswell, chairman of Felixstowe Coast Patrol and Rescue Service, said: "These rocks have been of great concern to us ever since they were put there and the possibility of a child or elderly person getting trapped is always our biggest fear.
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"I am paranoid about it. If a person got their leg or foot trapped, it would need the fire brigade to jack the rocks apart.
"We have held an exercise to see if the rescue services could cope with such a situation and we all agreed afterwards it had been very difficult and was something we hoped would never happen.
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"These rocks are a playground to children – that's human nature. The council should have tackled the problem in the first place and not just put signs up."
He suggested filling the gaps with ballast would be the best option.
Mr Bowell, of Ipswich, urged people on East Beach to keep a wary eye on their dogs and children.
It had been difficult to locate the dog and the slippery rocks made her hard to reach and pull free.
"I shudder to think what might have happened. It is even worse when you expand the theory to a wandering, inquisitive child," he said.
"There is little to warn of these dangers – and what notice would a child take of a notice in any case?"
A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal council said: "These type of defences are used across the country and are a recognised means of temporary sea defence. We are aware of no concerns from any of the local professional emergency services. Suffolk Coastal has warning signs up around the rocks."
Bruce Lack, watch manager at Thames Coastguard, said: "We have similar sea defences at Clacton and a number of locations along the coastline and while there have been one or two incidents the emergency services have never been prevented from making a timely and satisfactory rescue.
"As with any other structure along our shorelines, parents and children themselves are discouraged from climbing or playing on or near the sea defences."
n What do think? Are the rocks a dangerous playground – should measures be taken to keep people off them? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk