A PETITION calling for a public inquiry into Southend Council’s handling of the controversial Shoebury seawall has attracted hundreds of signatures within days.

More than 800 people have signed a petition calling on the Government to investigate how the authority agreed to build a 7ft-high seawall across Shoebury Common, despite massive public opposition.

The group hopes Rochford and Southend West MP James Duddridge will present the petition in Parliament, attracting national attention to the £5.18million scheme, designed to protect more than 350 homes and businesses in Shoebury from flooding.

Campaign organiser Daphne Johnson, of anti-seawall group the Friends of Shoebury Common, said: “We feel very strongly the scheme is wrong for this area and are well aware of the strength of feeling of so many people who are really upset by the prospect – after all, 2,221 people signed letters objecting to the plan and only four were in favour.

“There are other schemes that could be implemented here and give the same level of protection. We want all the alternatives considered in a fair and impartial way.

“We feel the only way now to achieve this is to approach the Government itself.”

The Government has already decided to reject Independent Thorpe councillor Ron Woodley’s request for the Secretary of State to investigate the process last month.

But more than 300 have signed an online petition claiming the council has failed to engage with the public over the plan and called for a public inquiry, and another 500 have signed paper forms at cafe Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in Shoebury Common, since it was launched at the weekend.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin owner Peter Grubb, a member of the campaign, said: “The petition is designed to get a question asked in Parliament and, as a group, everybody feels the Government needs to be advised as to what has happened in Southend.”

Deputy council leader John Lamb said: “Campaigners can start a petition, but as far as we are concerned due process was carried out, in fact it was carried out to a greater degree than it needed to be.

“A full consultation was done and the planning decision was made by the crossparty development control committee.”

To sign the e-petition, visit epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/ 64056