Storm damage bill for north Norfolk council hits £3m

PUBLISHED: 20:18 18 December 2013 | UPDATED: 20:18 18 December 2013

The clear up operation removing damaged beach huts on Cromer promenade.  

The clear up operation removing damaged beach huts on Cromer promenade. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

Storm damage along the north Norfolk coast is set to cost the district council about £3m it was revealed tonight.

A run down of the devastation to council-owned property, along with staffing and clear up costs, was outlined to a meeting of the full district council.

Members also heard that the figures were being updated all the time – and that talks were under way with the government both over getting some cash back to deal with the disaster, and over the future of sea defences.

Estimates currently show that damage and costs include:

■£1.61m to insured council assets such as the pier, chalets and toilets - but with an excess of about £90,000

■£1.34m to uninsured assets such as sea defences and promenades

■£25,000 for extra staffing costs

■£20,000 for emergency cleaning and waste disposal

■£10,000 for emergency housing and rest centres

Council leader Tom FitzPatrick said it was discussing recovery of the costs with the government, and stressed it wanted to improve, not just repair defences.

He praised council staff, communities, and volunteers for their work in the wake of the surge - as well as the EDP for its appeal, and keeping the issue in people’s consciousness.

Lee Walker, councillor for the worst-hit Walcott area, said the 1953 surge was meant to have been a one in 150 years event, but it had happened four times since then, making it one in 30 - and “we keep getting away with it by the skin of our teeth.”

Graham Jones said there was a need for a change in philosophy on sea defences, adding: “Managed retreat is inappropriate. There needs to be a rethink and look at progressively increasing defences. Too much land has been lost to the sea.”

Chief executive Sheila Oxtoby said the government had asked for a report on the local sea defences by Christmas - looking at alternative solutions and costs.

Michael Baker said a similar disaster overseas would have resulted in an instant cheque from the government.

Tomorrow the director general of the Local Government Association Helen Edwards is touring Walcott before meeting with council officials, who hope to enlist her help in getting funding help.

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