It seems to me that two quite distinct issues have become confused as the “problems” of Seaford’s beach have been discussed in the columns of your paper.
The first is the condition of the smaller, eastern-most groyne which provides the excellent viewing point for the kittiwake colony on the cliffs of Seaford Head and which has recently needed to be patched up. This used to be known as Groyne 52 or Seaford Head Groyne and was one of 55 or so which ran from Newhaven to around Seaford Head: it’s also the only one which remains more or less intact.
By the 1950s its sea defence role had been largely overshadowed by the construction of its neighbour, the much longer Groyne 51A which was built to protect the sewer outflow and which itself was covered by the larger structure which exists today, and which provides the eastern end stop of the 1987 “new” raised beach.
The responsibility for the maintenance of groyne 52 must be sorted out as it’s undoubtedly an asset for both visitors and residents.
Seaford Town Council has recently agreed, (without any liability or obligation to carry out future work), to help finance emergency repairs, with Lewes District Council doing the same. This work must be done, but people calling for major renovation must realise that because this area is now regarded as an amenity area, future costs will almost certainly fall on local taxes, rather than the Environment Agency.
The second “problem” is said to be the design and maintenance of the beach at Seaford Bay which is the responsibility of the Environment Agency. There is a claim that the whole design needs to be reviewed, and various other options considered. Having read the 1980s engineering reports, I have concluded that the alternatives which are being proposed appear to be either unrealistically expensive or unlikely to be as successful at protecting Seaford.
We must never lose sight of the fact that the post 1986/87 beach has served the sea defences of the town exceptionally well, and we have all been that bit safer as a result of the decisions taken in the 1980s. Just examining the archives at Seaford Museum, I have counted at least ten occasions between 1945 and 1970 when the old sea wall was seriously damaged, threatening the town with severe flooding and requiring tens of thousands of pounds of repair work. I am also sure that local residents would be able to recount even more incidents and near misses.
This doesn’t mean the town shouldn’t try to work with the EA to make the beach more user friendly, but we must never forget that the main job of the beach is to help to stop Seaford flooding.
David Swaysland, Seaford