Work to fix damaged sea wall at Hill Head is criticised as it’s already eroding

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WORK to fix sea defences has left a beach looking like ‘a scene from a war movie’, according to concerned residents.

Fareham Borough Council began work costing £250,000 to fix damage at Hill Head in early January and it was completed last month.

Tony Pepper (left), who owns a beach hut at Hill Head beach, with Bill Hutchison, chairman of Hill Head Residents' Association

Tony Pepper (left), who owns a beach hut at Hill Head beach, with Bill Hutchison, chairman of Hill Head Residents' Association

But beach hut owner Tony Pepper said people were ‘disappointed’ by the work as it started to deteriorate just weeks after it was finished.

He said: ‘We are so disappointed. It’s another load of money down the drain. The whole thing is a bodge job.’

Lumps of concrete have washed away from under the prom and the tide has scattered them across the beach.

Sharp metal rods have been left exposed, metal sheets have been up-ended with edges protruding through the sand, plus work to fix the groyne had to be removed as plastic sheeting was used instead of wooden planks.

Mr Pepper added: ‘They have left it looking like a film set for a D-Day beach.’

Concerns were first raised to the council by Mr Pepper in October, 2014.

As the damage got worse, the prom had to be closed in December, 2015 as it was deemed unsafe, and beach hut owners feared their huts would be washed away.

The work was handed to the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership, but as no residential properties were at risk it was deemed a low priority and no funding was available.

Fareham Borough Council agreed to pay £250,000 for the work in January and it began days later.

Mr Pepper said: ‘If they had just got on with it earlier, then they would not have had to spend so much money. We are beginning to worry about what the long-term plan is.’

His views were echoed by Hill Head Residents’ Association, as its members raised concerns at its latest meeting.

Bill Hutchison, chairman, said: ‘We have lost all faith in their professional competency.’

Hill Head ward councillor Tim Knight went to the site yesterday. He said: ‘The council is taking this very seriously. There is a huge sum of money involved in finding a long-term solution.

‘The ESCP is very responsible and professional and this matter is safely in their hands.’

Executive member for planning and development Keith Evans said the work in January was to prevent further deterioration and enable the promenade to reopen.

He said: ‘The sea wall has fundamentally reached the end of its working life.

‘The various repairs in recent years have enabled the promenade to remain open, but cannot reverse the overall deterioration of the failed sea wall.

‘Studies are now under way to find a permanent replacement’