A BATTLE is brewing over Shoebury East Beach – with the MoD being urged to hurry up and check it for more buried guns and explosives.
The beach was closed for safety reasons at the end of last week after 15 artillery and mortar shells and 12 machine guns turned up.
It has now emerged the MoD is not planning to meet Southend Council officials to discuss what to do until at the end of next week, prompting anger and concern that the beach should remain closed for so long.
The council has asked James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, to press the ministry to speed up the process.
Lynda Kelly, from beach toy sell ATS Services and Supplies, at the corner of High Street and George Street, says the delay is costing traders money.
She added: “I really think they should meet sooner “If the beach closed for a fortnight, our trade is going to go down the pan. We have lots of stock, but you can’t very well sell dinghies, buckets and spades when the beach is shut.”
Harish Panchal – known locally as “Harry” – who owns Station News, in Shoebury High Street said: “We really think they should do it faster, rather than have a meeting and then deciding.
“The MoD should be prepared to sort it out quickly.”
Council officers have repeatedly called and emailed the ministry with requests to clear the beach ever since it was closed last Thursday.
The military was already surveying the beach and looking for buried shells and guns, but has yet to agree to full clearance.
The council which will keep East Beach closed until it is safe to reopen and is said to be pressing for a face-to-face meeting early next week.
AndrewLewis, the senior council official responsible for the borough’s beaches, said: “Having made the beach secure, we have now written to the MoD and spoken to the local MP, who is supporting us and taking this issue up in Parliament.
“Senior management is also meeting the MoD on Thursday May 15, when we will be pressing it to complete the work as soon as possible. We hope to be able to give a further update after that meeting.
“We had no choice but to put public safety first and close East Beach. Our beaches are absolutely vital to tourism and to local residents, businesses and visitors.
“We understand, with the summer season approaching, local people and businesses will be concerned but we wish to reassure them we are working as hard as we can to find a resolution to this.”
An MoD spokesman said: “Decisions about the extent of work required or when this will happen have not yet been taken.”
The council is keen to stress the grassy area inshore from East Beach is still open to the public.