Campaigners to quiz council boss on sea defences

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SOUTHSEA campaigners have pressed the leader of Portsmouth City Council for answers amid concerns over plans for sea defences.

Members of the Southsea Seafront Campaign and East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum are hoping to have their fears heard at a meeting this Thursday where Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson will discuss the £100m project.

Ahead of the meeting the seafront campaign group have questioned Cllr Vernon-Jackson on several issues, including why it has taken so long for the plans to be ready and what will happen to businesses on Southsea promenade.

The group said: ‘What guarantees are there that the concrete walls proposed will last for 100 years, when most concrete is only designed to last 50 years?

‘Why has the concrete steps and shingle design – a key feature of the proposals – not yet been subjected to physical tests, to determine whether the shingle will remain stable on top of the concrete?’  

They added: ‘The short timescale left, to get planning permission by January 2019 or lose the Environment Agency funding, severely limits local people's chance to respond to and suggest improvements to this most complex development ever proposed to the seafront.’

But Cllr Vernon-Jackson was confident these problems would be addressed. 'I will pass the questions on to the team along with everyone else’s. We want to hear from everybody. Everybody’s views are really useful,’ he said.

He also believed the public consultations had been successful so far. He added: ‘We had over 500 people at the Canoe Lake consultation last week. We have had more people coming in on the first two days than we had for the whole set of consultations the previous year. We worked very hard to make people know what the consultations are and where they will be. We also extended them so they’re not just for residents of Southsea.

‘On the whole they have been very pleasantly surprised, the designs have been different to what they thought they were going to be.’

 The meeting will take place at 5.30pm at the Royal Beach Hotel in Southsea. Cllr Vernon-Jackson will speak at 7pm.