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Weston-super-Mare firms flooded as sea defence gates left open

By The Bristol Post  |  Posted: October 17, 2012

Weston-super-Mare's sea defence

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Businesses along Weston-super-Mare seafront were flooded when the gates on the resort’s new £29 million sea defences were left open during a storm.

Business owners woke up yesterday morning to find that water had flooded into the front of their properties.

Strong winds and heavy rain added to the high tide which saw waves crashing onto the town’s seafront.

Knightstone Road was several inches underwater, with motorists having to travel at a crawl to get through the floods. Metal fencing used at the site of the beach race had also broken and fallen into the road along Royal Parade.

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One local business faced with clearing up damage caused by the unexpected flood was The Old Thatched Cottage at Knightstone Road. Staff had to bring in a specialist firm to clean and dry the carpets before opening the restaurant two hours late at 12.30pm.

Manager Steve Coghlan, 52, said: “In the past, because of flooding, we had created our own defences at the restaurant using metal plates across the entrances and sandbags. But we didn’t think they would be needed because of the new sea defences and have put them into storage.

“However, when we came in this morning we noticed the sea defence flood gates were open, which meant water came over the walls and rose to around eight inches deep against our building.

“It’s frustrating the measures were not in place to prevent the flooding.”

Mr Coghlan said he would be reinstating the restaurant’s own defences in future.

The £29 million defence scheme has seen the sea wall between Marine Lake and Royal Sands upgraded and the promenade given a makeover.

The new defences are intended to help protect 4,500 properties in the resort from flooding.

North Somerset Council spokeswoman Zoe Briffitt admitted the authority had not closed the flood gates.

She said: “A combination of high tides and the wind direction caused some areas of the sea wall at Weston-super-Mare to be over-topped with sea water on Tuesday morning.

“The weather updates we received on Monday did not indicate a potential flood risk to Weston-super-Mare and no flood alert or flood warnings were in place for the North Somerset coast. As a result the seafront flood gates were not shut.

“Due to the effective sea defence storm drainage on Knightstone Road, the flooded road was completely clear less than an hour after high tide.

“The events of Tuesday morning show we can’t rely on weather warnings alone and we will be using more localised information in future and reviewing our procedures to ensure we are prepared for any future events.”

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