Harbour wall breached

An emergency meeting has been called after part of a wall protecting land and homes around an historic harbour breached.

An emergency meeting has been called after part of a wall protecting land and homes around an historic harbour breached.

A section of the wall at Southwold harbour - thought to be about 6ft wide - gave way earlier this week and it is feared that the rest of the structure could now be under threat unless immediate action is taken to repair it.

A team of divers will take to the water on Monday to survey the damage while councillors hold an emergency meeting to discuss what can be done to protect the future of the structure.

The crumbling wall, near the mouth of the Blyth estuary, protects a caravan park, marshes and roads leading into Southwold from flooding.

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Sue Allen, chairman of the Blyth Estuary Group, said yesterday: “Once one bit of the wall starts to go, the whole thing becomes rather precarious.

“The divers will be going down to get a better look at it, and then we'll need to go from there once we know how bad it is. We're just hoping that something can be done.”

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Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer will hold an urgent meeting with Waveney District Council chief executive Stephen Baker on Monday.

Mr Gummer said: “The harbour wall is absolutely vital to the integrity of Southwold harbour. It is so important for the community and the local economy that it is rebuilt.

“The harbour has been in use for hundreds of years and every generation has played its part in keeping it up and running. We can't ignore our duty to our children and allow it to fall into disrepair. The onus is now on Waveney District Council to support the local groups who are acting to beef up the defences along the Blyth.”

In October last year, Waveney District Council handed the management of the harbour over to Southwold Town Council and it was estimated at the time that the cost of repairing the already-damaged wall could be as much as �5m.

David Gallagher, Waveney's head of services, said that a diver has already checked the damage and confirmed that the harbour is still safe to use.

He said that Monday's dive will provide further information so that a structural engineer's report can be drawn up. “It will be a full survey to look at the options available to us. We are looking to complete this report as soon as we can,” he said.

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