Homes at risk as sea defence cash slashed

FELIXSTOWE: Community leaders have vowed to fight for the seafront after a vital �10million coastal defence project was withdrawn, leaving homes and businesses at risk of flooding.

More than �10million was approved by the Environment Agency (EA) in June for much-needed sea defence work on the central Felixstowe stretch from Jacob’s Ladder to the War Memorial, with work due to start next year.

But in a massive blow for the resort, funding has been withdrawn, leaving more than 1,500 people and businesses at risk, as well as the popular beaches, seafront gardens and coastline in danger of erosion and flooding.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey expressed her shock at the revelation that the defences, which were built in 1903 and are falling into serious disrepair, are to be overlooked.

“It’s frankly unbelievable,” said Dr Coffey.

“I’m happy to take on the fight on this. I will be following up in Parliament and I’ll be working together with the council to do whatever we can to stop this from happening.”

The council has already committed itself to �200,000 in contracts for work already undertaken, including ground investigations, site evaluation and drawing up designs.

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Councillor Andy Smith, cabinet member for coastal protection, said: “We can’t understand how this can happen or be allowed to happen, and clearly we aren’t going to rest here.

“Felixstowe desperately needs this work.

“The coast is not solely the responsibility of the people who live next to it – the entire nation has a duty to look after it.”

This is a bitter blow for the resort so soon after the welcome announcement yesterday that the planned academy would receive funding to the tune of �18million.

The project was set to include 18 rock groynes, a rock revetment and a walkway from the prom around Cobbold’s Point.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman confirmed the project had not been included in the provisional budget but a final decision would be made in April after consultation with local flood and coastal committees in the New Year.

n What do you think of the decision? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or you can send an e-mail to eveningstarletters @eveningstar.co.uk