Sea wall working party - concerns

CONCERNS have been raised over a working party set up by the new leader of North Somerset Council to look at alternatives to Weston's proposed sea wall. At a full council meeting on Tuesday, John Crockford-Hawley, who until May 3 was directly involved in

CONCERNS have been raised over a working party set up by the new leader of North Somerset Council to look at alternatives to Weston's proposed sea wall.At a full council meeting on Tuesday, John Crockford-Hawley, who until May 3 was directly involved in flood defence plans as a councillor, voiced numerous concerns from the public gallery.He said: "Remember your duty to protect over 5,000 properties, with more than £2 billion insurance cover, mostly below high water level in central Weston. "There is more at risk than the immediate seafront."The working party was set up by leader Cllr Nigel Ashton.The council's new planning chief, Elfan Ap Rees, who is taking on an advisory role on the panel, said the working party consists of Conservative councillors who represent the areas nearest the proposed seafront and includes councillors Andrew Horler, Chris Kimitri, Dawn Parry and Ian Porter.All four of these councillors promised to pursue the proposal for a marina in their election leaflets.Cllr Ap Rees says the group's remit is to review the current plans and respond to the public's concerns.He also responded to comments by his predecessor, Mr Crockford-Hawley, that some members of the working party might have prejudicial financial interests.He said: "The fact that they live and work in that area should not exclude them from representing the views of the local electorate."On the contrary, they are in a better position to know and understand the issues."However, working party member Cllr Kimitri, said: "I do not know anything about the working party. I hope that I will know more in a couple of days. The problem I have is that people might think there is a conflict of interest."Cllr Horler said: "There will be a working party looking at the sea wall but in the short term I have not had a meeting."Mr Crockford-Hawley warned the new council: "Cause delay or give excuse for the Government to renege on its commitment and we will be left with wholly inadequate flood protection and the loss of more than half a million pounds of taxpayers' money already invested."The Government has said it will fund the £17million scheme previously agreed with the council, £4million of which has already been awarded for work to begin this summer at Marine Lake. Under the terms of the current scheme, £500,000 already spent by the council will be handed back when the work is completed.


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