‘No need for new sea defence wall’

Headland Town Wall walklway where a second wall will be built as part of sea defence works
Headland Town Wall walklway where a second wall will be built as part of sea defence works

PLANNED work to boost the Headland’s sea defences and prevent flooding have been slammed by a former councillor as unnecessary and a safety risk.

Construction of a 2ft-high wall set back from the existing Town Wall to channel seawater away is due to begin soon.

But Headland resident, and former Headland councillor, John Marshall, has questioned the need for the wall which he believes could pose a danger to people.

The wall is part of a wider £1.3m work to bolster Hartlepool’s sea defences.

Hartlepool Borough Council, which agreed the Town Wall plans last summer, says the reinforced set-back wall will help protect about 230 properties from flooding and severe storms.

It will replace the existing inside wall and railings and also include floodgates and an underground drainage system.

Seawater caught in the channel will run off through a drainage system and back out to sea.

Mr Marshall said: “This wall shouldn’t go up. I can understand why the council wants to stop flooding.

“But the council is putting this in where houses have never flooded and we say never will flood if the drainage is good enough so why put a wall in?

“The wall is not big enough not for people to climb over. If someone is trapped in the channel when water comes over the top, how are they going to get out, they will just get washed along.

“This whole scheme is completely mad and needs to be looked at again.”

He added that any sea water that comes over the current wall quickly runs off naturally and says the houses have never flooded in the last 100 years.

Mr Marshall also questioned the cost to the council of employing someone to attend to close the floodgates when storms are predicted.

The scheme will soon go to the council’s cabinet for approval after what the authority says was extensive public consultation.

A council spokesman said: “With rising sea levels and the increasing problems of coastal erosion, computer wave modelling has shown that, if we don’t strengthen the sea defences, in years to come about 230 properties in the Town Wall area will be at very serious risk of flooding during severe storms.

“The cost of this scheme, which is being funded by a £1.3m grant from the Environment Agency, is far outweighed by the need to protect people’s homes, and potentially their lives.

“In terms of the floodgates at either end of the Town Wall walkway, they would be closed by a member of the council’s staff in advance of any forecast storms and checks would be made to ensure that no-one is on the walkway when it is closed off.

“Also, parents clearly have a responsibility to keep their children away from any coastal walkways and similar areas during stormy conditions.”