Council to investigate seawall after storms

High tide and high winds cause flooding in Blackpool
High tide and high winds cause flooding in Blackpool

A probe is to be launched into why Blackpool’s £100m sea defences have been breached for the second time in a month.

Waves crashed over the seawall and water flooded on to the Promenade road and tram tracks as storms continued to batter the UK on Friday.

High tide and high winds cause flooding in Blackpool

High tide and high winds cause flooding in Blackpool

Business bosses along the Golden Mile told The Gazette how they had a “lucky” escape as water came on to the Prom.

Town Hall chiefs say they will now investigate whether the breaches are as a result of weaknesses in the structure.

Coun Fred Jackson, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “People are obviously asking if the defences are working, but it doesn’t bear thinking about what would happen if they weren’t there.

“Officers will investigate the recent breaches of the seawall to see if they are result of any weaknesses or just freak weather conditions.”

High tide and high winds cause flooding in Blackpool

High tide and high winds cause flooding in Blackpool

The modern defences were designed to withstand everything except a “once in a 100 year event”.

Pathways were laid as a secondary defence against the waves should they be needed.

However, twice in the last four weeks, the tide has poured on to the Prom during powerful storms.

Coun Jackson added: “Our staff have been visiting all the premises affected by the storms in December to ensure they were prepared for the latest bout of bad weather and offer sandbags if needed.

“It’s very worrying that we have had two occurrences of extreme weather in quick succession.

“You only have to look at the pictures of the sea hitting the walls to see the sea defences are taking a huge amount of power out of the waves preventing them from flooding the Promenade properties.

“The vast majority of the water that overtopped the defences drained away within half an hour of high tide.

“Our staff will continue working round the clock this weekend.”

Last month, seafront businesses were flooded in similar conditions.

Yesterday, residents were warned to stay clear of the seafront as water flooded the Prom faster than council pumps could clear it, forcing police to close the road and trams to be suspended.

Princes Way in Anchorsholme was completely flooded and Cleveleys Promenade was closed off.

Emergency services were placed on alert and businesses were today still waiting to see if their luck holds out.

The Environment Agency’s flood warnings remain in place as tides will stay high over the weekend.

North Pier took a pummelling at the hands of the last storm, which caused around £1m of damage.

Gayner Sedgwick, whose family owns the pier, said: “We tied down what we could but now we’re just on alert and waiting to see what happens.

“We are still fragile and there’s not much you can do when the weather is like this.”

Staff at Notarianni Ices, on Waterloo Road, South Shore, took steps to prevent a repeat of last month’s storms, which flooded their business.

They posted a picture on Twitter of sandbags lined up to protect the shop.

But after the tide subsided they wrote: “Looks like we may have just about got away with it this time.”

Businesses also praised Blackpool Council for providing sandbags and clearing drains in preparation for the bad weather.

Jeanette Davies, who runs the Blenheim Mount Hotel on the Promenade, said: “The tide was certainly high but the wind wasn’t as strong as last time.

“We were lucky - if the wind was any stronger it would have come in.”

All coastguard units were out yesterday but there were no incidents during high tide.

But Coun Jackson said he was concerned those who were “ignoring” safety warnings to take pictures close to the huge waves.

He said: “My main concern is that people stay safe. Too many were ignoring the warnings today and taking pictures near of the waves. Elsewhere in the country people have lost their lives, I don’t want that to happen here. Please stay away from the seawall at high tide – it is dangerous.”