AN MP is piling pressure on the MoD to start clearing unexploded bombs from Shoebury East Beach – by tabling four parliamentary questions on the issue.
East Beach was closed more than a week ago after live shells were found on the sands.
Mr Duddridge is hoping the four written questions he has tabled to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will get things moving and get the beach open again.
He has asked:
- How long an MoD survey of the beach will take
- How long it will take to clear any more bombs and shells it turns up
- How long East Beach will be closed
- What steps Mr Hammond is taking to ensure the work is carried out as fast as possible.
Under parliamentary rules, Mr Hammond has ten days to respond.
Mr Duddridge said: “I will do all I can to ensure the survey and any remedial works are carried out as a matter of urgency.”
The MoD owns the beach and licenses it to Southend Council for use as a public space.
It is surveying the area to assess the risk after 15 artillery and mortar shells and 12 machine guns were uncovered there recently.
The beach will remain closed until the MoD has scanned the area and made it safe, but the council is becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of action.
The ministry is not due to meet the council for talks until next Thursday.
Tony Cox, councillor responsible for public protection, said: “I raised it with James Duddridge and asked him to apply pressure to the MoD as quickly as possible.
“It’s not good for trade and it’s not good for the impression of Shoebury and Southend.
“I call upon the ministry to do the work as safely and expediently as possible.
“The residents of Shoebury have been very accommodating to the military, with it being a garrison town. Now it’s right for the MoD to give something back.”
Mr Duddridge has also asked Mr Hammond to carry out an assessment of the impact of the beach closure on tourism and the Southend economy, to demonstrate the urgency of the issue.
An MoD spokesman said it had nothing new to say on the subject, merely repeating an earlier statement which said it was working with the council to minimise the risk to beach users, that the survey was under way and would help it drawup a “ risk management plan”.
He added: “Decisions about the extent of work required or when this will happen have not yet been taken.”