SHINGLE works at Bracklesham ‘have taken us back ten years’, residents have said – and they are demanding action from Chichester District Council.
In January, contractors moved shingle from Bracklesham to the west, to protect sea defences towards West Wittering.
The council said there was surplus shingle at Bracklesham which could protect its western neighbours, but residents have said the move was a ‘mistake’.
Since the work was carried out, residents of East and West Bracklesham Drive say the sea is coming in closer to the houses, it is overtopping the sea defences and shingle is being thrown into their gardens.
Many are worried about their properties, especially during severe weather.
In response to these concerns, Chichester District Council’s senior coastal engineer David Lowsley said this was because we have had some of the worst storms in years,
“It is unfortunate that this has happened this year, when we have embarked on a beach management project,” he said.
But this is something residents deny. At a meeting of residents on Thursday, many were not satisfied with this explanation and said it was the council’s shingle work which had changed things.
Kaye Stubbington, from East Bracklesham Drive, said: “Needless to say, after seven years of no flooding due to the best natural sea defence we’ve ever had – when a storm hit on February 14, the sea once more came over and ran down the road like a river, flooding gardens, caravans and holiday home sites. The loosened shingle filled gardens and broke walls and fences.
“We’ve had storms like this before and over the past seven years or so since the natural shingle defence built up – we’ve had no flooding problems.”
David Taylor, from East Bracklesham Drive, said: “Waves are breaking five metres nearer to the houses. We have had storms similar to this before.”
He said a meeting with the council was needed to ‘agree a way forward’, and many residents said they wanted the shingle to be replaced.
Brian Vaughan, from East Bracklesham Drive, said the sea would climb over the sea defences more than ten years ago, but it had been relatively calm since then – until the work in January.
“Now it comes down at nearly every tide,” he said. “It is absolutely ridiculous.
“Obviously they did not know very much about the area. This is a mistake.”
Residents agreed there was a problem at East Wittering, but said taking shingle from Bracklesham was ‘shortsighted’ and ‘ill-conceived’.
They estimated the works had cost up to £5,000 in damage to their gardens and properties, and said as there were 100 homes in East and West Bracklesham Drive, that was a cost of £500,000.
Residents suggested a council tax rebate in recompense.
In response, Mr Lowesly said: “We have no problem with meeting the residents.”
He said all the work was done with ‘careful consideration’, and although the council planned to take ten per cent of the shingle from Bracklesham, the decision was taken to take only four per cent of it.
“We honestly believe we have done the right thing,” he said.