PM arrives in Suffolk for summer hols

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown arrived in East Anglia this weekend for the start of his summer holiday - and immediately received an invite to view Suffolk's beautiful coastline.

Mark Lord

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown arrived in East Anglia this weekend for the start of his summer holiday - and immediately received an invite to view Suffolk's beautiful coastline.

Campaigners fighting plans to abandon the area around the Blyth Estuary to flooding have asked the PM to take a boat trip to see what will be lost if the area is left to the sea.

Mr Brown, his wife Sarah and sons John, four, and Fraser, two, are staying at Shadingfield Hall, near Halesworth, and will spend the next two weeks enjoying the delights of places like Southwold and Walberswick.

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However - following an announcement by the Environment Agency that it can no longer financially justify the protection of the Blyth Estuary from flooding and that it will now carrying out a policy of managed retreat - much of the picturesque countryside and marshland currently playing host to the Prime Minister and his family will be under water within the next 25 years.

Graham Hay Davison, honorary chairman of Southwold Harbour and River Users Association - one of the groups opposing the Government's plan to abandon the land to the forces of nature - said he would be happy to take Mr Brown up river to see what would be lost.

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“On behalf of the Harbour Users, I welcome Mr Brown and his family to Southwold and hope they have a very happy time here enjoying the peace and tranquility of the Blyth Valley,” he said. “While here, I would be willing to take Mr Brown up the River Blyth in my boat to see what we locals are doing, at our own expense, to overcome 50 years of lack of maintenance by the agencies responsible for our sea walls. This is in order to ensure that we are all still here next year should he wish to return.”

Campaigners are also planning a large demonstration on Southwold promenade on Wednesday at 11am to underline their concerns and call for more Government cash to be spent protecting the Suffolk coast.

“If Gordon Brown has his way there will be nowhere for his two boys to get their buckets and spades from and nowhere to buy an ice cream because it will all be washed away,” a spokesman for the Blyth Estuary Group said.

Speaking about the Blyth Estuary, Mr Brown has said nothing is finalised and he understands locals' concerns about flooding and the Environment Agency's proposals.

He assured the Government is committing hundreds to millions of pounds to combating coastal erosion as global warming causes sea levels to rise.

“We have got to respond to people's concerns,” he said, after arriving in the region on Saturday. “All these decisions have got to be made on the basis of different areas' needs.”

Mr Brown and his wife began their break by visiting a country park near Norwich on Saturday.

He said he was looking forward to playing on the beach with his children and reading.

“I think everybody is ready for a holiday at this time of year,” he told reporters. “I want people to know that Britain is a great place for tourism.”

A Downing Street spokesman said no formal invitation has been received as yet inviting the Prime Minister to attend a boat trip along the Blyth.

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