Sunday, 18 May 2014

East Beach

I like many of the residents in Shoebury want to see East Beach open to the public as soon as possible. When the Council had to take the only sensible option available when live ordnance was found on the beach, my colleague Roger Hadley and I, immediately briefed James Duddridge MP to get pressure applied on the MoD.

To his credit, James immediately tabled four questions to the secretary of state. This beach needs to be open quickly. Local businesses rely upon it. Shoebury residents have been accommodating to the MoD for many, many years. It is time for the MoD to give something back to local residents and make the clearance of the ordnance an immediate priority.

Following pressure from Myself, colleagues, Council officers and James Duddridge, the MoD met eith the Council on Thursday where the following statement was released by the Council's media office:

“Following a constructive meeting yesterday afternoon, we have agreed jointly to accelerate the timescales for the surveying and sampling work that is already underway in the MOD owned area across both East Beach and West Beach. At the request of the Council, the MOD have today agreed to prioritise the assessment of the licensed public area of the beach in recognition of the importance of this beach to residents, visitors and businesses.

“The next steps of the survey require a two-day explosive ordnance reconnaissance led by the Royal Navy.  This is not a clearance operation but will involve the investigation of a number of sample areas identified by the ongoing surveying work. The MOD have already asked for this work to be done as soon as possible and have assured the council that it will take place by early June. Once exact dates have been confirmed, we will make a further public statement.

“In the meantime we have agreed to start work on a joint risk assessment of the area which will be necessary to inform decision making over the re-opening of the beach.  The risk assessment will be informed by the ongoing survey and the investigation works that will be undertaken by the Royal Navy.

“Once the investigation works have taken place, within two weeks the MOD will analyse the results from within the licensed area and a decision will be made by the council about the re-opening of the beach.

“Both organisations recognise the impact of this issue on the community and will continue to work in partnership on this matter.”

This is an issue which I will be keeping a keen eye on.

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