Flood defence work suspended for winter

RENOVATION work on Felixstowe's floodgates has been suspended for the winter – after a suggestion to take them away and put sandbags in their place was dropped.

RENOVATION work on Felixstowe's floodgates has been suspended for the winter - after a suggestion to take them away and put sandbags in their place was dropped.

Officials had put forward the idea of carrying on the refurbishment during the winter, the worst time for high tides and flooding.

Gates in the sea defences would have been removed with sandbags left in their place and then returned and others taken away to be repaired.

But while the improvement work will now be on hold until next spring, the Environment Agency has assured residents the gates will safeguard the public over the winter months.

Work began in August on maintaining the gates but has fallen behind schedule so that only those nearest the Manor End have been serviced and given a bright new lick of Felixstowe blue paint.

"We had discussions with the Environment Agency once it became clear that the work was running late, and I am pleased that the option of replacing the gates with sandbags while they were removed for maintenance has been dropped," said Andy Smith, cabinet member for coastal protection.

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"It would have been a quite unacceptable risk to have continued work on the gates, depending on sandbags for protection during the storm season.

"It is much better that the work is put off until next year as we have been assured that the outstanding 22 gates can withstand the rigours of another winter.

"I would like to thank the Environment Agency for their commitment both to carrying out the improvement work and to ensuring that any risk during the work is eliminated."

Mr Smith, deputy leader of the council, said the improvement programme for the gates was the first one for ten years, with each of the 31 gates being checked, repaired if necessary, and painted.

The Environment Agency is responsible for the maintenance of the gates that are normally closed from autumn through to early spring.

The work has taken longer than expected because of a combination of factors including poor ground conditions, badly corroded bolts, and problems with the fixings where the wall is faced in brickwork.

What do you think - is suspending the work the right decision, or would sandbags have done the job this winter? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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