SEAFRONT resident John Perry rescued a man off Pagham Beach – and said he would go to jail in protest at the site’s erosion.
Retired teacher Mr Perry heard a woman’s screams close to his beachside bungalow.
He saw the woman and her boyfriend struggling in the whirlpool, created by the tides surging in and out of the changing Pagham Harbour mouth.
The situation has been caused by the ever-growing Church Norton Spit which is altering the flow of the sea and eroding the shingle.
He said: “The man was aged about 25 and Polish and had become stuck in the whirlpool. He couldn’t get out. His girlfriend couldn’t get out either.
“I called for her to swim along and she managed to get on to the beach about 30m along.
“But the man was in the deepest part of the whirlpool. He was a strong swimmer but he couldn’t get anywhere.”
The couple had four friends on the beach and Mr Perry asked them to talk to the swimmer.
He got a nearby lifebuoy but the rope was too short. He used a longer piece from his car boot and managed to reach the swimmer and helped him to get ashore.
“He was a bit dazed,” said Mr Perry, 69, of West Front Road.
“We had called the paramedics. He was out of the water for about 20 minutes when they arrived. They stayed with him for about 40 minutes while he recovered.”
Mr Perry said the drama – which happened at about 5.15pm on July 16 – could have ended in tragedy. “If it had been a child, they would not have made it,” he said.
“The conditions at the beach are disgusting.”
Mr Perry said the rescue highlighted the foreshore’s continued erosion which has led him to refuse to pay his council tax to Arun District Council since last April. He is awaiting developments in his ongoing battle.
“I will be safer in jail than I am here. I would estimate there’s 25m of beach left between my bungalow and the sea. But 6m of frontage went recently in one go.
“It can disappear so quickly. I know the council say they are monitoring the situation but what can they do when the erosion happens like that?”
Mr Perry, who has a part-time job maintaining aircraft, has known the Pagham Beach area since he was four. He bought the land for his bungalow in 1984 and built the property over ten years.
An Arun spokeswoman said: “Dissatisfaction with council services is not a justifiable reason for non-payment of council tax.
“If a customer refuses to pay their tax due to a grievance, the council proceeds with the statutory enforcement process.”
She said the council was committed to tackling the situation at Pagham Beach. New supplies of rock are due soon. This would allow for work to the damaged groyne