Residents form action group to protect beach

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ANGRY Pagham residents have formed an action committee to fight for work to protect their homes.

Some 30 homeowners signed up in a show of people power within minutes of the committee’s launch at a public meeting on Tuesday (January 7).

The committee will be chaired by Pagham Beach Residents’ Association chairman David Huntley. His vice chairman will be Allen Miller. Both live on West Front Road where the bungalows are closest to the sea eating into what remains of the beach.

Mr Huntley said at the meeting: “The time for nice environmental constraints has gone. We have to do something now.

“Peoples’ homes are within two high tides away from being in the water.

“My bungalow has lost 20m of beach in front of it and we are losing about three metres each time this happens. The yacht club has lost eight metres.

“There’s a chance the water will breach by the yacht club and that all of Pagham will flood. That will be very serious.”

Initial suggestions for action made by the some 40 people at the 70-minute meeting on Tuesday, held by the parish council in the village hall’s new extension, included advertising the area’s plight in the national press, camping on the Church Norton Spit which is channelling the tide to scour the beach, and working with other councils.

The meeting took place against a backdrop of a disappearing beach after the storms of the past two weeks.

Surging waves got round a rock revetment installed in mid-December and a breakwater has been destroyed by the ferocious storms. Mr Huntley said the revetment had also caused the scouring to move along the foreshore eastwards.

“The revetment was too little too late,” he said. “The scouring is now migrating along the beach. The seats in front of the yacht club are now breaking up.

“What we need to do is to block the Pagham Harbour mouth. That will stop the scouring current and then decide where to cut the spit.

“It’s no good letting the authorities decide what to do because they will only keep patching it up.”

Fellow resident Alistair Black said: “Ninety-nine per cent of people want the spit to be cut. We just want it done.”

Mr Miller said: “If you keep building rock revetments along the beach as it is bulldozed by the sea, then all of Pagham’s seafront will look like a pile of rocks. But this is a holiday resort.”

The spit has grown the past ten years with shingle deposited by tides which used to put it on the beach. A channel through the spit was in place between 1961-2003 but engineers say environmental and cost constraints mean it cannot be repeated.

Parish council chairman Cllr Ray Radmall said it would seek meetings with Arun District Council and the Environment Agency about the beach’s future protection.

“We’ll see if we can break down the barriers to getting anything done,” he said.