Southsea residents worried that new 'huge wall' in sea defence scheme will block view of sea

THE first meeting of a new community group tasked with scrutinising a multi-million pound flood defence scheme is due to be held next week.

Saturday, 5th January 2019, 11:37 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 2:29 pm
Councillor Steve Pitt

Members of the community stakeholder advisory group will be staging their opening session with officials from Portsmouth City Council to see what progress has been made on the Southsea coastal defence scheme.

Due to be held on Thursday, it will be the first opportunity the group has had to hold the council '“ and those responsible in the design of the coastal protection - to account.

The organisation was set up as a way to give residents a greater say on the scheme and is made up of prominent community campaigners.

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A new wall will strengthen the sea defences in Southsea, which have previously collapsed in bad weather.

Leon Reis, chairman of East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum, is part of the team. He said: '˜This is really important to us. The slogan for Portsmouth is 'the great waterfront city'.

'˜A lot of people are concerned that we're going to end up with a huge wall around the coast which will means that we will no longer be able to see this water from this 'great waterfront' any more.'

He said the group is eager to see what the designs will look like.

But he claimed the council had not been '˜up-front' about the plans and added: '˜I believe Portsmouth City Council has a total endemic constipation when it comes to public consultation.

'˜They don't know how to do it and they are frightened to do it. Therefore it's very difficult to trust them when they hold things back.'

Yesterday, the council revealed it would host a new set of consultation days, due to take place next month, giving people a chance to have their views heard.

Councillor Steve Pitt, deputy leader at Portsmouth City Council, said the authority was committed to being as open as possible.

He added: '˜The community stakeholder advisory group (CSAG) will provide a new, regular forum for community and civic groups to receive updates on this critically-important project throughout the planning application stage and construction.

'˜The project team want to be as transparent as possible, hence our efforts to set up the CSAG, the dedicated website, presence on social media and considerable efforts over the past few years to engage with stakeholders and the community.

'˜To that end, new drop-in exhibition dates in February have now arranged and further workshops also planned to take place.

'˜The scheme's planning application will include a full range of plans, elevations and visualisations which are currently being finalised by our contractors, which will be checked and approved by us once received.

'˜Once that process is complete, we will be able to share them with the public.'

The drop-in exhibition is being held at Coastguard Studio, in Clarendon Road, on Thursday, February 14, 2pm to 7pm, and then from 11am to 5pm on February 15 and 16.

Information events will be held at: Cosham library on Monday, Feburary 18, 1-4pm; North End library on Tuesday, February 19, 1-4pm and Beddow library in Milton, on Wednesday Feburary 20 from 1-4pm.