A SAILING club has been criticised after 4,000 tonnes of shingle was dumped on the beach at Hill Head.
Beach hut owners have expressed concern over the state of the beach after Hill Head Sailing Club put the shingle there over the weekend, covering steps to access the beach and groynes along the coast.
John Giblett, 77, from Heathfield Avenue in Fareham, owns a hut there.
He said: ‘I was horrified to see that our beach has disappeared. We don’t know what’s in it. There could be glass or fish hooks.
‘We know that the harbour has to be dredged every few years.
‘I have been coming here swimming for 70 years – I have never seen it like this before.
‘I’m not against the sailing club, but I want to get it removed and get our beach back to how it used to be.’
Beach hut owner Tony Pepper, 65, from Old Street in Hill Head, added: ‘The sailing club does a good job of maintaining the harbour but it’s the first time they have done it like this.
‘We feel there has been an error. We don’t want to fall out with them.
‘They did make an effort to smooth it out – there were about 100 people there.’
Anne Maxwell, who lives in Hill Head, said it has ruined the beach and that it wasn’t safe for young children.
‘I have been coming to this beach for years – it’s my little piece of heaven,’ she said.
‘It was beautiful down here. That’s why we get so many people.’
The club said every few years the seabed has to be dredged as shingle ends up in the entrance to the harbour.
Bob McManus, commodore of Hill Head Sailing Club, said: ‘Unfortunately, due to high spring tides, before the shingle deposits could settle, the sea eroded into the shingle bank, creating a potential hazard for beach users.
‘A large group of members from the sailing club gathered and moved tons of shingle.
‘It was a condition in the licence we receive to do the work that the shingle must be placed at a certain point on the beach.
‘The shingle placed on the beach once we get some rain or is immersed in the sea will turn the natural beach colour we normally see.’