We want a barrage not a barrier

A SEA defence scheme could become Weston's very own Berlin Wall dividing tourists from bars and hotels along the seafront, traders say

A SEA defence scheme could become Weston's very own Berlin Wall dividing tourists from bars and hotels along the seafront, traders say.Last week the Weston & Somerset Mercury's front page illustrated how high the sea defence wall proposed by North Somerset Council could be. Now traders have reacted to the plans by spelling out what a 1.5m barrier could do to the tourist trade.John Tsaroullas, who owns The Mentone Hotel, Nick's Bar, Barzaar and Smiths Hotel, said: "Weston is suffering as it is and a wall is going to segregate the seafront from the businesses."It's going to be like the Berlin Wall to my mind and is going to ruin anything that Weston has left. All we will be able to see is Brean Down and the top of the pier."There's obviously a need for flood protection, but I'm sure that taking the cheaper option is not good for Weston."Owner of The Pavilion in Knightstone Road, George Georgiou, said: "We think it is a crazy idea and we are going to fight it. It would be a major detriment to our business."A meeting is being planned for businesses to club together to challenge the wall scheme, he said.Paul Tunsich, manager of The Old Colonial, said: "The height of the wall is going to jeopardise the marvellous view and affect the price of our property by five to 10 per cent, if not more."During the summer we live or die on the sea view. The council has to do something to protect us from flooding, but this is about whether it is doing the right thing."Nook & Harbour owner Chris Kimitri said: "We have raised our forecourt by 2ft, so I think our customers will be able to see over the wall. "But others may get the feeling like they are looking at a prison wall. I think other businesses will probably have to raise their forecourts like ours. It cost us £28,000 about 10 years ago."I've spoken to some councillors who say it's going to be a lot prettier, that a lot of money is going to be spent on the seafront."Seaward Hotel owner Sophie Michael said: "The proposed sea wall is short-sighted. I wouldn't want to sit on the seafront paying lots of tax and look at a wall. Businesses at this end of the seafront have to work twice as hard to get trade as it is."A barrage is what Weston has been waiting for for years and years. It and the Tropicana being redeveloped would benefit the town more than anything and put Weston back on the map."North Somerset Council's planning and transport chief, Councillor John Crockford-Hawley, said: "The question has to be whether we are prepared to have proper flood defences or are we not. If a wall is what we need to protect property it will be irresponsible to attempt to cut it down for purely aesthetic reasons."What the Weston Mercury's front page picture last week failed to do was take into account the elevated position of bars along that point of the seafront."We have always known that a splash wall is part of the scheme and it's only the result of engineering design work that the wall needs to be a maximum of 1.5m in front of the Old Colonial.