Holiday resort anger as beach stays shut

Business people in Southwold were fuming last night after it was revealed that the town's beach could be closed for the rest of the summer.

Business people in Southwold were fuming last night after it was revealed that the town's beach could be closed for the rest of the summer.

Work on a £6.5m coastal protection scheme, including the construction of 16 new groynes began in January, with traders being warned that the beach would be closed until June.

But last night Waveney District Council revealed that ongoing problems removing the old groynes from the seabed could mean the beach will not be safe to open for another six weeks.

The news came just hours after traders were left scratching their heads as to why the contractor, Halcrow, had closed the beach north of the pier - just after it had been re-opened to the public.

Stephen Bournes, who runs Southwold Pier, said it was extremely bad news for the town.

He said: "Every day counts here. I have got 10 weeks to make most of my money for the year and my livelihood depends on this beach. We had rain last year, we have got fabulous conditions this year and still my takings are down.

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"Now they have just closed the north side as well because they say there is metal in the water, but there is just no urgency to get the beach open.

"The barges to do the work were supposed to come yesterday, they are still not here today, and on top of that there is no communication.

"We are not being told why this is happening."

It is now believed that a number of businesses in the town will be claiming compensation once the work is completed.

And traders are not the only ones angry about the closure.

At the weekend police had to be called after a group of people ignored the barriers to the construction site and refused to leave the beach.

Now many in the town believe the adverse publicity could drive holidaymakers and daytrippers to other seaside resorts.

Adele Buckley, of Southwold Chamber of Trade, said: "The main thing is Southwold is still a beautiful town and it is still open for business. There is still a lot of beach open.

"Yes traders' patience is wearing thin, but ultimately Waveney is doing everything it can and the problems with the groynes are due to unforeseen circumstances."

Last night, the project manager for Waveney, Paul Patterson, said Halcrow had not expected the problems it had faced removing the groynes.

Now Halcrow is waiting for a barge to arrive, which a team of divers will work from, manually removing the groynes.

He said: "We do regret how the situation has developed but we want the beach open as soon as possible and we are looking at ways we can make that happen."

Mr Patterson added that although work was expected to take six weeks, as each groyne was removed, a new section of beach would be re-opened.