Tourism fears as sea wall crumbles

FELIXSTOWE officials are today demanding emergency action after huge cracks emerged in parts of Felixstowe sea wall.In a situation described as “dire” by Felixstowe Regeneration group chairman Doreen Savage, there are also fears that this summer's tourist trade could seriously be under threat.

FELIXSTOWE officials are today demanding emergency action after huge cracks emerged in parts of Felixstowe sea wall.

In a situation described as “dire” by Felixstowe Regeneration group chairman Doreen Savage, there are also fears that this summer's tourist trade could seriously be under threat.

Today engineers are continuing to monitor the situation and are looking at stop-gap measures to keep the wall standing.

Mayor Ann Rodwell said she was “absolutely horrified”.

She said: “It really is quite shocking. The council has been warning the government this would happen and for the government to say it has run out of money is no excuse.

“Are we going to have to wait until our businesses start to drop into the sea? This is a very busy part of the seafront and this could damage our tourism season.”

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Suffolk Coastal officials said that the sea wall had failed in one place, and four other sections showed signs of damage. The wall as bowed outwards in two places and a metre wide area has no support.

The drama began after high tide at around 7am on Saturday morning following days of high winds and strong seas battering the seafront.

Mrs Savage said: “This is really serious and I was shocked when I saw it - you can see below the hole in the prom that the erosion has left it hollow.

“This is more than an emergency now - it is a dire situation, and I want to know what action is going to be taken.”

Andy Smith, cabinet member for Suffolk Coastal said the events have proved that the council has not been crying wolf over the need for government funding.

He said: “Our pleas for £5 million funding from the government has so far failed to be successful, despite our warnings that the sea wall was in grave danger.

“Concrete blocks have been placed against the bowed sea wall to try and stave off any further damage and we will monitor the situation after every high tide.

“The council has already had plant and equipment on site to shore up the sea wall and we will be looking this week at bringing in rocks to help build up the defences.

“However, these are only stop-gap measures that at best will provide temporary relief. We must get the government's funding to proceed with the planned permanent defence works as only they will safeguard Felixstowe's sea front, and over 1,600 homes and the port.”

Do you think the government is to blame for the state of Felixstowe's sea defences? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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AROUND 90 metres of Felixstowe sea front has had to be cordoned off.

High winds and rough seas at the end of last week moved sand away from the beach and left the wall exposed at its base causing the wall to “break its back.”

A six inch crack appeared in the promenade near the Shore Break cafe on Saturday forcing engineers to act in a bid to prevent any further collapse.

Terry Oakes, coastal engineering advisor to Suffolk Coastal District Council, said: “This is extremely serious and we are really worried about what will happen.

“We could see the wall collapse even more and then we will end up losing part of the prom. With a bit of luck, because the wind has dropped, it might be that the wall stays in place and we can work on it.”

Mr Oakes said the sea had got underneath the fittings of the wall and probably taken material from behind the structure, causing its collapse.

He said officials at the council had feared the collapse due to poor sea defences.

He added: “The council has been trying to get money from the government to undertake improvement works and it was accepted last year that work could be started in May because people were really concerned about this very thing happening. In December the government said there were no funds and so the scheme was put on hold.

“The council was worried about what would happen over the coming winter of 2006/07 and we had a contractor coming in on Wednesday to build more groynes in this very location.”

Mr Oakes said the face of the wall now had horizontal cracks through it and could move further away from the mainland if nothing was done.

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