Row over sea defence funding

A POLITICAL row erupted last night with Labour councillors accusing a Tory-run authority of failing to apply on time for funding for vital coast defence work.

By Danielle Nuttall

A POLITICAL row erupted last night with Labour councillors accusing a Tory-run authority of failing to apply on time for funding for vital coast defence work.

Suffolk Coastal District Council has asked the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to fund half of a £10million defence scheme to protect about 1,600 homes and businesses in Felixstowe.

The situation became urgent in May when around 50 metres of sea wall collapsed, with giant boulders since installed as a short-term measure to hold the waves at bay.


You may also want to watch:


But Labour councillor Mike Deacon, who represents the Walton area of Felixstowe, told a meeting of party members that he had seen a letter from Defra which made it clear that it had not received the formal application for funding from the Conservative-controlled council until June 7.

“Suffolk Coastal Council taxpayers may have missed out on a £5m grant to improve sea defences because Conservative councillors did not arrange for a bid for funding to be sent in on time,” he said.

Most Read

“Because of this error, either the work will be delayed, or more money will have to be found by the hard pressed taxpayers. Also around £400,000 already spent on current remedial measures could be wasted, and the Government left to pick up the pieces.”

He claimed that the application should have been sent months before to receive cash for 2006-7 and that the council had no excuse as the need for this work had been known for several years.

But in a statement last night, council leader Ray Herring said: “Suffolk Coastal has worked closely with Defra and the Environment Agency on a £10million joint coastal protection scheme for south Felixstowe for a number of years.

“We were due to submit an application last November (2005) following advice from Defra when the Government announced that all funding for coastal protection works would be withdrawn by the minister. This was due to a substantial overspend on inland flooding schemes.

“Following meetings with Defra, they advised us to submit an application last month but have failed to indicate whether it would be in anyway successful.

“Along with our Member of Parliament John Gummer, we continue to strongly press government to fulfil their funding responsibilities in protecting our coastline.”

Earlier this week a Defra spokesman confirmed it had received an application for the scheme in Felixstowe and would be reviewing funding allocations for 2007-8 in the autumn.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus