December 12 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 13, 2013
The mayor of Southwold is calling for urgent action to restore the level of the town’s beach after a woman was injured falling 12 feet from the promenade onto the sand.
The woman, in her 50s, was found injured on the beach shortly before 9pm on Wednesday night.
The coastguard and members of Southwold’s RNLI lifeboat crew were called to the scene, midway between Suzie’s Beach Café and the pier, and lifted the woman using a basket stretcher. She was transferred to an ambulance and taken to James Paget University Hospital suffering from back pains.
It is believed the woman was visiting the area from Derbyshire and had been looking at her mobile phone when she fell off the promenade on to the beach.
Southwold mayor Simon Tobin said the level of the beach had fallen by up to 6ft over the last five years and there was now a significant drop off the promenade.
He said Southwold Town Council believed the problem had been caused by new beach groynes installed eight years ago and members had been calling on Waveney District Council to resolve the issue for some time.
Mr Tobin came across the accident scene while walking home and helped lift the injured woman from the beach.
Praising the rescuers, he said: “I was walking back along the seafront and saw some blue flashing lights. A lady was lying about mid-way along the promenade on the sand facing up with some people around her. She had fallen 12ft.
“I was told she had been walking with her head down and had been texting and walked off the promenade. She was OK but she had a very painful back.
“It was very lucky that a couple were walking a dog and came across her. The tide would have been in in about four or five hours. Also, if she had landed on the steps and railings, God knows what would have happened to her.”
He added: “I know that the beach is scouring away at that point. Only five years ago it was only a 6ft drop. We’ve been asking Waveney to look at sorting out the groynes north of the pier because they haven’t been designed properly.
“We’ve been talking to them for two years and I know they have been reviewing the height of the beach.”
Mr Tobin said the sea came in at an angle and the groynes were meant to diminish the power of the waves and also stop the sand washing away but they were not long enough and the height of the beach had been dropping since they were installed.
He said the previous groynes had extended far out to sea but had eventually broken down.
Mr Tobin said the town council did not want to see railings installed along the promenade but wanted to see the beach engineered back to its original height.
He added: “I feel very strongly, and have done for a number of years, that something needs to be done by an engineering solution to get the sand to start increasing in front of that area of the town.”
A Waveney spokesman said it shared the town council’s concerns about the groynes and carried out monthly monitoring of the heights between the promenade surface and the beach to understand how these changed over time.
He said a review of the processes along the coast at Southwold – including the effectiveness of the groynes – was scheduled to start next year.
He added: “There was a significant investment in the groynes and the promenade. However, we share some local concerns about their effectiveness to hold a full beach. Beaches are dynamic and the entire Suffolk coastline not just Southwold has suffered from significant lowering of many beaches caused by many weeks of persistent north and north-easterly winds earlier in the year.”
He said council workers had previously moved beach material to bank up against the promenade but this depended on there being sufficient material to be redistributed.
Alan Scoggins, senior helm of Southwold Lifeboat, said his team were contacted by the Coastguard and asked to bring their basket stretcher to the scene to remove the injured woman from the beach.
He said the stretcher was brought to the scene by car as it was more convenient than using the lifeboat, given the tide conditions.
He added: “We are always delighted to work with other agencies and we were pleased to able to assist our Coastguard colleagues on this occasion.”