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Safety fears force seafront work

PUBLISHED: 10:49 26 June 2008 | UPDATED: 20:42 05 July 2010

Emergency work costing nearly £600,000 is set to be carried out on crumbling sections of Lowestoft's seafront after fears over the safety of visitors were raised.

Emergency work costing nearly £600,000 is set to be carried out on crumbling sections of Lowestoft's seafront after fears over the safety of visitors were raised.

An 800m ornamental wall stretch-ing from the Claremont Pier to the Cefas building in Pakefield has been earmarked for replacement following several incidents where vandals hurled loose concrete blocks down the cliff face from the upper to lower promenade.

A new wall will cost taxpayers £315,000, while a further £250,000 must be found to replace dangerous lighting columns along the same stretch of the seafront.

Members of Waveney District Council's cabinet are set to vote in favour of shelling out the money when they meet tonight after being told urgent action was needed to protect the public.

David Jessop, a member of the council's asset management team, says in a report to councillors: “Failure to replace the balustrade wall will represent a major safety risk to persons using the upper and lower promenades, either from falling debris or unprotected cliff face.

“The balustrade wall… has been in a poor condition for many years, with repairs being carried out on an 'as and when' basis. An inspection has recently been carried out which details the current condition and identifies the need to carry out the necessary works as a matter of some urgency.”

Council officials ordered an investigation after discovering concrete blocks had been thrown from the upper promenade down to an area where many beach huts are sited.

Inspectors found widespread damage, with concrete panels broken or missing and loose sections with no mortar to hold them in place. About £15,000 of work has already been started, with some dangerous sections of the wall removed and a temporary wooden fence put in place.

The wall is in a conservation area, so the council has promised to demolish it carefully to ensure parts can be retained and used in the rebuilding operation.

Meanwhile, another investigation has revealed that many of the lighting columns on the Esplanade are in such poor condition they need to be replaced urgently.

Plans to replace more than 50 columns with temporary lights have already been approved, at a cost of £15,000, and councillors have been asked to rubber-stamp spending a further £235,000 on permanent replacements.

Mr Jessop said: “The lighting columns on the Esplanade are in a very poor condition with many severely corroded, rendering them as unsafe and a potential danger to pedestrians. Failure to replace the lighting columns will impact on the accessibility to parts of the seafront after dark and create a climate for anti-social behaviour and vandalism to prosper.”

The council said it had funds available within its capital budget to pay for the urgent repairs. Extensive improvement work has already taken place along several sections of the town's seafront, and council regeneration manager Paul Moss said it was hoped to secure European funding to allow further projects to take place.

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