Seafront businesses fear ruin if dunes continue to 'overrun' beach
- Credit: Mark Allen
Businesses stationed along a quiet seafront stretch in Great Yarmouth say more must be done to prevent the beach being "overrun" by marram grass.
The owners of The Beach Hut and Munchies Cafe on North Drive say their eateries offer a much-needed counterbalance to the amusement-packed strip between Wellington and Britannia Pier.
Instead, their major draw is the view.
But since 2019, when the council stopped mechanically cleaning North Beach, owners say the dunes have grown unchecked, with a "green film" supplanting the formerly "pristine" sand pathway between the cafes and the sea.
Sandie Menezes, 52, who bought The Beach Hut with her partner Bertie four years ago, said her concern is that North Beach businesses are playing second fiddle to the ones further south.
She said: "The council said the beach along by Marine Parade will continue to be mechanically cleaned, so why can't ours be?
"We'll have to rename The Beach Hut "The Dune Hut" in a couple years time at this rate.
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"We'd only need it cleaned about twice a season to stop the spread of the dunes, but the council can't even give us that. When they used to rake it the place would look gorgeous."
Meanwhile Mark Allen, 62, has run Munchies Cafe for almost nine years. He dubbed it "ludicrous" that the council is leaving his end of the beach "to its own devices".
But according to Great Yarmouth Borough Council, they stopped raking it at the request of Natural England in a bid to "conserve the natural environment".
They said the beach was never "raked" to stop dune formation but to keep the area clean of litter, which is now done manually at North Beach.
They said it is high footfall which tramples the beach flat and suppresses vegetation growth rather than the raking, and that the cafes, £2.7m Waterways restoration and nearby car parks will do the job in keeping visitor numbers buoyant moving forward.
In fact, the council said there was evidence the raking actually "helped the grass colonise new areas" by distributing it.
Ms Menezes, however, said she didn't trust footfall alone to deal with the problem.
She said: "That's nonsense. We had really high visitor numbers here last year and the year before, but the grass is still growing.
"It's no coincidence it started growing when the raking stopped."