David Swaysland’s further letter (headed ‘Abandonment of Seaford?’) in the Express is revealing of past history of Seaford Beach, but I regret does not seem to address the future. Jim Skinner’s photograph alongside however illustrates the increasing trend of the material now at the water’s edge to ‘cliff’ – this was predicted by the Environment Agency (EA) themselves a few years ago when the consequences of increasing tide levels were considered.
As the shingle degrarades into coarse sand this cliffing will only get worse. The history of Seaford Beach, which can be compared to Chesil Beach in Dorset, as a man-made feature as opposed to a purely natural creation, indicates that any material deposited on it, from pebbles to ships and even drilling-rigs, will be bashed and broken against the breakers created by the promenade, a man-made feature which has to be maintained to prevent flooding of the town behind. The ‘Eendracht’ which was beached in 1997 at Tide Mills where no promenade exists, escaped damage.
The remit of the EA since its creation has always been to maintain the beach purely as a flood defence; it has only been recent pressure from Seaford Town Council (itself created as recently as 1999) and Seaford Community Partnership which has forced them to recognise its potential as a tourist amenity. This is hardly surprising, given that back in February 1990, the then Chairman of the Seaford Consultative Committee based in Lewes, Councillor Peter Gadsdon stated, “We don’t want to become a popular seaside resort. We want to stay as a nice, relaxed, seaside town.”
The letter by the present Vice-Chairman of Seaford Town Council, Mark Brown (no relation) indicates that the Conservative regime at Lewes and Seaford has now distanced itself from that view, but sadly in the meantime, as Cllr Brown states, so many amenities, like Corsica Hall, have been lost to the town through financial predations by both the district and county councils in the name of financial necessity. To leave the beach in its present state would just continue that policy of leaving Seaford to stagnate, something that I and my former colleagues on Seaford Town Council, Conservative as well as Liberal Democrat, were determined to avoid, hence the improvements since 2003 including new beach-huts, better cafe facilities and a beach garden.
The part-funding by Seaford Town Council of repairs at Splash Point is a welcome sign that this Conservative regime seems determined not to copy its forbears; the town needs investment in, not divestment of, its remaining tourist attractions! Unfortunately, the loss of The Beachcomber suggests that Lewes District Council has not yet learned that lesson.
Bob Brown, Seaford
Note: The quote from former Councillor Peter Gadsdon appears in a supplement to the Express published on February 23, 1990.