Sign of the times

COME on in, the water's lovely, if you can reach it without being injured!As thousands of people head to the coast for the bank holiday weekend, they'll have to be careful to avoid the forest of warning signs standing in their way.

COME on in, the water's lovely, if you can reach it without being injured!

As thousands of people head to the coast for the bank holiday weekend, they'll have to be careful to avoid the forest of warning signs standing in their way.

There may not be any signs of sharks lurking, but Felixstowe's visitors this summer have faced a barrage of dozens of warning notices about a host of other dangers.

Dangerous rocks, hazardous groynes, a drop to the beach, hidden underwater obstructions, an old pier . . . and many others.

And people are starting to wonder if the seafront is far too dangerous a place to venture out onto these days.

Although obviously there to help prevent accidents, warning notices are a sign of the times in our compensation culture society, but resident Duncan Wells feels it has gone too far at the resort - and can count 25 alone from his windows overlooking Cobbold's Point.

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"It's unbelievable, crackers, we really have gone sign mad. You don't have this situation at other seaside resorts," said Mr Wells, of Maybush Lane.

"I think the council should take away all the signs and just put one large sign up - 'Stay Indoors'.

"Or they could have a van with a loudspeaker touring the seafront telling people of the dangers.

"I am beginning to wonder whether it is safe to leave my home at all with all these dangers. It is like a commando course to get to the beach.

"It's beware of this and beware of that - people are not credited with common sense any more. And if there are so many hazards, why don't the council deal with them and make them safe instead of just putting up another unsightly sign?"

At Cobbold's Point there are signs painted on the prom warning people of the drop to the beach and railings to prevent falls, notices telling people to keep off the rock groynes, to watch out for underwater obstructions, not to dive or swim near the remains of an old pier, to look out for ship's wash and freak waves and other sea dangers, and places where people might slip or trip.

Dozens of similar signs litter the prom all along the seafront, plus there are no cycling signs, clean up after your dog and Neighbourhood Watch notices.

Councillors were furious last month when the Environment Agency put more than 25 signs up to warn people not to swim near groynes at Landguard. Mayor Doreen Savage said everyone had gone "sign crazy".

A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal council said: "We recognise that parts of the seafront have become over-cluttered with signs.

"At the end of the season we will be carrying out a risk assessment for the whole of the seafront with a view to having fewer signs but ensuring there are enough appropriate ones to meet safety needs."

One problem was that the council was not the only landowner and other bodies had responsibilities for health and safety issues and also put up signs.

n What do you think - are there too many signs? Is the seafront dangerous or should people use their common sense? Write to Your Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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