A LIFEBOAT station could be forced to close unless urgent action is taken to stop subsidence.

People in Southwold have been lobbying Waveney District Council for more than five years to replace the harbour's crumbling north dock wall, by the town's RNLI station.

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A LIFEBOAT station could be forced to close unless urgent action is taken to stop subsidence.

People in Southwold have been lobbying Waveney District Council for more than five years to replace the harbour's crumbling north dock wall, by the town's RNLI station.

Although the council decided last year to fence off the area in the interests of public safety, it could still be more than two years before the wall is replaced.

Now members of Southwold lifeboat are calling for the council to step up the vital work, before it makes their site unusable.

John Huggins, operations manager for Southwold lifeboat, said: “This wall has been causing us concern for a long, long time.

“We were told it would be at the end if its life expectancy in five years - and that was over 10 years ago. But Waveney has done precious little to the harbour in all the time it has been running it,” he said.

“The last survey found a cavern underneath the wall underneath our car park, which has been a major concern to us. There was a hole in the wall, which the council has shuttered then filled in with concrete.

“There are also substantial cracks in the concrete around the base of the crane we use to launch our vessels.

“But while we are pleased the council has done this emergency work, the whole wall needs replacing and urgently.

“If any part of the wall was to fail, which could easily happen, we would have big problems.”

Mr Huggins added that were the station forced to close, calls for inshore rescues, such as someone falling into the River Blyth, would go to Lowestoft or Aldeburgh - both 20 minutes away.

Graham Hay-Davison, chairman of the harbour users' association, said: “We haven't been able to use this wall for years. It's finished and has to be replaced and any other attempt to botch it up would just be a ridiculous waste of taxpayers' money.”

Waveney's portfolio manager for operations and facilities, David Gallagher, said it was already looking at the north dock wall.

“We have had divers and surveyors looking at what's needed, then once that is done we will go out to tender to see how the work will get done.”

He said Waveney hoped to get the work done within two years but that would depend on the time it took for various permissions and approvals to be granted.

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