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MP's hope over defences

PUBLISHED: 13:49 29 November 2008 | UPDATED: 12:25 03 July 2010

POINTING THE WAY: Mark Simmonds, shadow health minister , visits Scratby with Brandon Lewis.

POINTING THE WAY: Mark Simmonds, shadow health minister , visits Scratby with Brandon Lewis.

THE Tory shadow minister for health has pledged to support Scratby residents in their fight to save their homes from being swamped by the sea.

MP Mark Simmonds said during a visit to the village he wanted to end the uncertainty villagers were experiencing over whether sea defences protecting Scratby were going to be bolstered.

THE Tory shadow minister for health has pledged to support Scratby residents in their fight to save their homes from being swamped by the sea.

MP Mark Simmonds said during a visit to the village he wanted to end the uncertainty villagers were experiencing over whether sea defences protecting Scratby were going to be bolstered.

During his trip to Norfolk, the MP for Boston and Skegness met Lyndon Bevan and Jack Bensley, from Hemsby and Scratby Coastal Erosion Group, as well as Brandon Lewis, prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for Yarmouth.

His whistlestop tour was to learn more about the situation the residents found themselves in so he could feed these into Conservative policy in the run-in to the next general election.

Mr Simmonds, part of the Tory team looking at coastal defence, was concerned current coastal defence strategies such as the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) were focused more on defending the more populated areas and did not consider other factors such as the impact on tourism.

He said: “I think the government needs to understand and take into consideration all of the factors that are relevant to making the decision to invest money. It is not just about where the majority of people live, although that is important, but we have to also take into consideration the impact on business and tourism.

“We have to take into consideration the value of the properties as well as in some circumstances the effect on the agricultural industry.”

He said his constituency was facing similar problems with coastal erosion, but that as yet the Tory party did not have a strategy and was in the process of developing their policy on coastal towns, which will also consider their transport and infrastructure and levels of benefit dependency.

But he said any decision on levels of funding would have to factor in the uncertain economic climate and the levels of revenue available to the government if the Tories were to win the next general election. These issues, he said, should be included in the process of drawing up the SMP.

“I think that we have seen the very close proximity of people's houses to the shoreline. It has been demonstrated to me the amount of erosion that has happened and the real and understandable feeling of concern that people who live here are in a state of limbo.”

Mr Lewis said the main short-term priority was to get funding to extend the rock berm all the way along the beach to provide protection for all the 150 properties threatened by the sea in the long term.

Up to 22 family homes could be threatened within the next two or three years.


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