Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: and whatever happened to the Beach Management Plan...
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: moving on, but still with so many unanswered questions
At the recent full District Council meeting, the issue was brought up by the chair of the Futures Forum of the Vision Group:
EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of the Council held at Knowle, Sidmouth, on Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Robert Crick wanted to raise issues relating to the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan. He referred to cliff erosion and that initiatives to tackle the causes required accurate analysis. As a member of the Beach Management Group, he was unaware of any such analysis but was aware that a Council spokesperson had stated that the rock groynes on Sidmouth beach were not responsible for cliff erosion and wanted to know if it was an accurate statement.
Councillor Phil Twiss responded as Chair of the Sidmouth Beach Management Group by referring to the FAQ’s on the web site that set out the various options, with the current situation outlined and are specific to the question asked.
This includes the appraisal report, and provides the technical information sought.
Question 5 – In response to the supplementary questions in relation to the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan about expectations of funding from Sidmouth Town Council, and evidence of suitable alternatives, the Leader confirmed that he would consider the issues involved.
28 February 2018 minutes.
Unfortunately, "There was a technical problem with the equipment which means that a recording could not be made."
To look more accurately at what actually took place on 28th February:
The notes of the Council meeting are inaccurate. The audio equipment was broken so the only record is Robert Crick's script of the questions asked (see below). What the notes might have said more accurately would be:
Robert Crick wanted to raise issues relating to the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan. He referred to cliff erosion and that initiatives to tackle the causes required accurate analysis. As a member of the Beach Management Plan Steering Group, and its predecessors over the past 12 years he was unaware of any such analysis but was aware that a Council spokesperson had stated that the rock groynes on Sidmouth beach were not responsible for cliff erosion and wanted to know if it was an accurate statement.
Councillor Phil Twiss responded as Chair of the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan Steering Group not by referring to the FAQ’s on the web site (the inaccuracy of which had been noted by Mr Crick on previous occasions) that set out the various options, with the current situation outlined and are specific to the question asked.
coastal-protection/beach- management-plans/sidmouthand- east-beach-management-plan/ sidmouth-beach-management- plan-frequentlyasked- questions/
This includes the appraisal report, and provides none of the technical information sought.
In fact Cllr Twiss poured scorn on Mr Crick's claim to have been involved as an active stakeholder participant in this issue for as long as 12 years but did undertake to investigate the basis of the claim made in a recent press release.
One hour later during the meeting Cllr Twiss spoke privately to Mr Crick having completed his investigation by finding a copy of the aforementioned press release and offering it as evidence to support the claim that evidence had been established to prove the previously unknown facts referred to in the press release!
Mr Crick therefore decided to leave his appeal to the Chair and members on the record and to raise the matter again at the next meeting of the Steering Group. This meeting was called, with an agenda determined without consultation, just 8 days before it is due to take place on 15th March 2018. The council does not arrange for members of the Steering Group to communicate with one another about the business of the meetings in advance or after the meetings. Several members have resigned on the grounds that they are not given any opportunity to steer the plan and they have no confidence in the records of what has been agreed over the past two years.
This is the full text of Mr Crick's questions to the council:
Thank you Chair. Robert Crick from Sidmouth, a member of the Beach Management Plan Steering Committee.
Members will know there have been many consultative bodies and investigative projects organised by EDDC, DEFRA and others addressing the challenges posed by the cliff erosion east of the river Sid.
Over the past 12 years I have been an active local participant in this series of enquiries and planning groups. I am aware that an engineering solution depends on making a reasonably accurate analysis of the multiple causes of the problem. Accurate diagnosis is the route to an effective cure.
My question relates to a recent statement in the local newspaper attributed to an unnamed ‘spokeswoman’ for EDDC commenting on the funding shortage for implementation of the council’s preferred Beach Management Plan.
I appeal to the Chair and members first to establish whether or not the spokeswoman was accurately quoted when she claimed that the rock groynes in front of Sidmouth Esplanade did not contribute to the stripping away of the Eastern beach in recent years.
Second, if this is an accurate statement of the current position of EDDC, could Members request the evidence for this diagnosis of the problem; and arrange for this evidence to be shared with the stakeholders of Sidmouth?
Members might thirdly enquire why this “certain fact” has never been shared by any officer or expert consultant during the past 12 or more years.
It is notoriously difficult to prove a negative. For example, there is a widely held belief within the local community that shortly after the rock groynes were put in position in the 1990s, the beach was progressively swept away which resulted in the cliffs starting to tumble more rapidly. But without definitive proof that this is a matter of cause and effect rather than a coincidence, some scepticism is in order. Because “Reality is not always what it seems”, as the science of quantum gravity shows.
Residents, businesses and visitors to Sidmouth have watched an attractive amenity turn into a potential death-trap. We have witnessed the growing precariousness of a once secure flood protection for the town. We would welcome certainty of any kind.
If EDDC has indeed made an analytical breakthrough, please share the evidence with us and we will have the confidence to invest in your preferred solution, about which we still feel deep scepticism
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan >>> frequently asked questions >>> last updated 6th September: and still fail to address explicitly the arguments against and in favour of offshore reefs to create a self-sustaining sand tombolo
The last meeting's 'notes' were produced a month later:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: report from 10th January meeting