COUNCIL contractors had to shift sand back to the west of Shoebury Common beach after moving it by mistake.

Southend Council admitted workmen incorrectly moved the material from the vulnerable west end of the beach to the Ness Road slipway.

The mistake was spotted by Peter Lovett and Ray Bailey, members of the Friends of Shoebury Common, who feared it could lead to bad erosion at the west end of the beach.

Mr Lovett of Leitrim Avenue, Shoebury, said: “After the storm, I notified the council the revetments, pilings and foundations were exposed at the west end.

The sand is reducing on quite a large basis from the sand drift, which is always west to east, and they really were in a bad state.

“We noticed diggers had turned up Monday morning and when we confronted a driver, he said he was moving sand from west to east.

“We told him this was wrong, but they continued. They moved a huge amount of sand incorrectly.”

Mr Bailey of Parkanaur Avenue, Thorpe Bay, said: “The workmen probably weren’t given proper instructions – there is no communication there. If they had left it that way, it would have left the west part even more vulnerable to erosion.”

Mr Lovett contacted Richard Atkins, Southend Council’s coastal defence engineer, and the workmen began rectifying the error.

Mr Lovett said he was pleased the sand was now going back, but wanted the council to bring in more sand to protect the coast.

He added: “The diggers are now moving the sand back, and taking even more sand from Ness Road slipway in the east back to the west. I congratulate the council, because it has made a good job with what it has done.

“It is vital a complete beach recharge is provided. Replenishing the sand will improve sea defences by reducing wave pressure and protecting the sea wall and foundations.”

Mr Bailey said: “Instead of shifting the sand around, they should be importing sand to build it up. Just recycling it isn’t solving anything.”

A council spokesman said: “A simple, honest mistake quickly rectified by the contractors has not had any significant effect on the work, which continues to schedule.”