New solution to the prom's sandy problem
COMPLAINTS about a build up of sand on the promenade in Chapel St Leonards could be significantly reduced thanks to the arrival of a new piece of equipment.
Chapel St Leonards parish council has invested £23,000 in a new loader which it hopes will help to keep the pathways clear from wind-blown sand.
The parish council has previously brought in contractors to undertake sand clearance on the promenade but this has proved costly and largely ineffective at keeping the sea defence wall clear of sand.
Council chairman, Councillor Patrick Naughton, said: "What people refer to as the promenade is actually the sea defence wall, owned and maintained by the Environment Agency to protect the area from coastal flooding.
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"The Agency clears sand twice a year to enable it to inspect the integrity of the wall. But if a strong wind comes off the sea, the sand can be back the next day, making it very difficult to walk along it, and impossible for mobility scooters."
"Not only do our residents wish to enjoy the promenade, including those who are elderly or disabled, but holiday makers also wish to enjoy easy access to the beach and to walk along the sea defence wall.
"Keeping it reasonably clear of sand will also benefit the local businesses, who are dependent upon the visitors. Although we have no legal duty for clearing the sand, the council felt that it would be in the interests of all the community if we could come up with a solution."
The Avant 528 loader has been purchased from JT Friskney of Horncastle and the council's responsible finance officer, Councillor Mel Turton-Leivers put the financial package to enable the investment to go ahead.
Mr Turton-Leivers, said: "With the Council's relatively small budget, this represents a significant capital investment.
"Our precept – the portion of the Council Tax that comes to the parish council – is £75,600, which represents around £52 per annum for a band D property.
"We were determined that the precept should not rise this current year, so I had to find savings from within last year's and this year's budgets to fund the purchase of the machine. That is easier said than done, but I am very satisfied with the result."
The Avant 528 is powerful enough to tackle the sand before it builds up to an unacceptable level, but small enough to access the narrower approaches to the sea defence wall.
It is also hoped the loader will help to tackle other jobs around the village, including supplementing gritting in key areas in the winter.