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Is Southend's £7.5 million City Beach shared space scheme sinking?
FEARS have been raised that Southend’s £7.5million City Beach is sinking – because it has not been built properly.
Southend Council is investigating the concerns after the Echo sent it a picture showing how pieces of wood had been laid underneath the shared space scheme’s block paving.
Block paving usually involves a firm, sealed base being laid before sand is used to keep blocks in place.
Traders on the seafront claim this could be a reason why parts of the paving appear to be sinking, particularly around drains.
Martin Richardson, who runs the Happidrome arcade and is one of the seafront traders who spotted the wood, said: “I cannot believe blocks have been laid on top of pieces of wood.
“You could clearly see it when the contractors dug down to get to the cables. If the rest of it is built like that, no wonder it is sinking in so many places.”
He said the area that was visible looked like a “bodge job” you would see on the BBC’s Rogue Traders programme.
He added: “All the pavement is blocked. What else is under the whole seafront? We have already asked for an independent survey to be carried out on the construction of the shared space.
“The blocks are already sinking in several areas and it has affected the drainage and led to flooding.
“Traders have been talking about marking a line around all the faults outside their business, but it would end up looking like a patchwork quilt.”
The picture of the wooden blocks was taken outside the Chinnery’s pub, where work is being carried out to replace damaged electricity cables.
Simon Patterson, co owner of Chinnery’s, said: “If it’s raining it never reaches the drains where the pavement has sunk.
It has never reached the drain properly since the paving was laid. We raised these issues at the time, but we got accused of being moaners.
“We have had 12 power cuts this year. When they dug it all up for the paving they damaged the cables and now they have had to dig them up again.”
The City Beach scheme was part of £15million of work carried out by Southend Council that saw a seperate shared space area also created at Victoria Gateway.
The City Beach scheme was finished in March 2011.
The council hopes its investigations will find wood has been used in just a small area.
Zulfiqar Ali, strategic highways and traffic manager, said: “We are taking this issue up with the contractor. However, we are confident this is an isolated incident.”