Leigh cliff stabilisation plans delayed until summer

Fears are growing that a road in Leigh-on-Sea could crumble further after burrowing badgers caused more delays to multi-million repair works.

Southend City Council revealed in November that a £2million scheme to repair Cliff Parade and nearby cliffs had stalled after someone tampered with equipment designed to stop badgers returning to their setts.

Cliff Parade

However, it has emerged that a licence given to the council by Natural England to move the setts stipulates the badgers can’t be moved between November and July.

The delay could mean further deterioration of the road and potentially see more badgers move in.

Richard Longstaff Green Party councillor for Leigh said a better plan is needed to prevent this.

He said: “It’s a difficult situation. It’s a small window because in the winter the badgers go into hibernation and you can’t touch the setts and then in spring they are rearing their young and you can’t interfere with the setts until the young are out of the setts.

“They put this mesh on the ground to stop them digging new setts and there were non-returnable flap doors put on the sett entrances so the badgers couldn’t get back in.

“Somebody propped open one of these gates to allow them back in.”

Cllr Longstaff said the current plan risked just moving the problem to other parts of the cliff which could then face the same damage caused by the badgers.

He said: “We need to get the pavement and highways repaired and the cliffs need to be engineered so there is no risk of collapse, but the badgers need to be safely relocated.

There have been reports of badgers found dead because they can’t get back into their setts and they start wandering.

“They can’t go west because of properties. They can’t go north because of the road or south because of the railway line so they can only move eastwards.”

Cllr Longstaff added: “They need to funnel the badgers to the only place they can go. There needs to be a more comprehensive planning approach to relocate the badgers properly.

“They need to reengineer the cliffs. They could be reinforcing the part of the cliffs at the only place they can relocate. The council needs to be honest with people. They’ve got no plan.”

Traffic lights currently control vehicles on Cliff Parade.

Kevin Buck, councillor responsible for highways and transport, said: “Highways officers are keeping a close eye on it. Had the work site not been interfered with the work probably would have been done by now.

“I don’t think it should necessarily deteriorate anymore because that’s the reason why the light controls were put in place to take some pressure away from the cliffside of the highway.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter