Southend City Council has come under fire for cutting out a section of a sea wall to install steps to a beach in an area “at serious risk of flooding during storm surges”.
An almost 2ft high piece of seawall has been removed in order to install steps from Shoebury Common promenade down to the beach.
Peter Lovett, chairman of Shoebury Residents Association, and Peter Grubb, owner of Uncle Tom’s Café on Shoebury Common have raised the issue with the council as a matter of urgency.
Southend Council has insisted the work “is not fully completed” and the seawall will be reinstated.
Mr Lovett said: “The thing I was concerned about was that instead of going up over the wall it went through the wall. In the 1960s they put that extra 2ft of wall up after the 1953 floods and what they have done is taken us back to 1953.
“Most of the storm surges we get come in December and January so they are exposing us. If we get a high sea level it could flood through there. It looks like a bad design and I’m worried about it.”
Controversial plans for a £35million, 7ft high wall to be built across Shoebury Common were ditched after a public outcry.
In 2020 it was announced an extra foot of seawall and more sand was needed to protect the stretch of coast from flooding but none of the work has been carried out.
Mr Grubb said: “Whoever was responsible for this has no understanding of what a sea wall does. There is pictorial evidence from a few years ago that shows the closest that we came to overtopping at Shoebury Common. It was a frightening experience because the sea was literally lapping against the vertical part of the sea wall where that step section is.”
Kevin Buck, councillor responsible for transport and highways, said: “As part of planned works to improve access to Shoebury Common Beach, the old concrete steps have recently been removed and replaced with an installation using glass reinforced materials.
“The work is not yet fully completed and the small part of seawall removed will be fully reinstated by our experienced contractors using concrete around the new steps as per the approved designs. This work has been slightly delayed due to the recent poor weather but is scheduled to be completed this month.”