Southwold beach reopens

A popular seaside resort's beach has finally re-opened to the public - four months after work on it was due to be completed.

A seaside resort's beach has finally reopened to the public - four months after work on it was due to be completed.

When the £6.5m coastal- defence scheme in Southwold began at the end of 2005, holidaymakers and tourists were reassured by Waveney District Council that the project would not disrupt the season. The council even advised traders that if delays did arise, work would be suspended over the summer and resumed at the end of the tourist season.

But as the June completion date loomed, delay after delay saw the barriers around the beach stay firmly in place, leaving businesspeople and holidaymakers fuming.

And last night, at the end of a fraught summer in the town, Waveney announced the beach had reopened. The news has been met with a bittersweet response from traders, who although pleased, are disappointed that the work caused so much disruption during one of the region's hottest summers.

Southwold Pier owner Stephen Bournes said: "Well they said May, June, July, August and here we are in October - but at least it is done. It's quite easy to be annoyed, they messed up completely with the timings, public relations, communi-cation with the town and took what was going to be a bumper summer and turned it into an average one.

"But we have a better beach, one that is hopefully here to stay and now we need to look forward to a better future."

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Adele Buckley, of Southwold Chamber of Trade, said: "The good news is the beach has been reinstated, you couldn't use the beach for two or three years because there was simply no sand there. But as chamber we have asked the district council to monitor what is happening with the beach and if further work does need doing we want to make sure it causes as little disruption as possible. The work should have started on time but it was late in starting and that has been compounded by delays caused by the weather.

"Communication is paramount in letting traders and holidaymakers know what is going on. A major problem with this scheme was letting agents had let holidaymakers know the beach would be opened by a certain time and then it just didn't happen. Another problem was lets that included a beach hut, and then when people got here they couldn't use it."

Yesterday, the council's portfolio holder for economic regeneration, Wendy Mawer, said: "This fantastic scheme will safeguard the future of many hundreds of homes and will preserve a truly beautiful stretch of Waveney coastline. It is a great example of good partnership working and everyone involved should be warmly congratulated.

"I would also like to thank the residents and businesses of Southwold, as well as the visitors, for their patience ..."