Letter: What do election candidates propose to fix East Cowes landslip?

The East Cowes resident wants to know what candidates in the local elections will do about the East Cowes landslip

East Cowes Landslip April 2018

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This from Peter Geach of East Cowes. Ed

With the Isle of Wight council elections coming up in May, it would be interesting to hear what the prospective East Cowes councillors intend to do about regaining at least foot and wheelchair access at the Landslip on East Cowes Esplanade to the beaches up to Castle Point.

Some years ago, in 2014, a significant landslip occurred along the Esplanade blocking off access to the beaches up to Castle Point. 

Denial that burst water pipe caused it
The slip coincided with a major release of water at the Southern Water Pumping Station directly above the slip on Spring Hill.  A major pipe burst released a significant volume of water.  Southern Water denied this major leak had anything to do with the landslip.  Our council accepted this and went along with the coincidence theory.

Over time, various reasons why the landslip couldn’t be cleared were put forward; cost to reinstate the road was one, but another was that tilt meters were still detecting movement and therefore it would be unsafe to reinstate in fear of a further slip.

Tilt meter detected soil movement
Can I elucidate a little about the tilt meter detected soil movement.  East Cowes is on clay, when the tide comes in the ground rises, when it goes out the ground lowers, imperceptibly, but sufficient to show on a tilt meter. 

There are anecdotal incidents that support this; back in the time (1949!) when the Saunders Roe Princess wing spars were being drilled; the spar had been aligned, after lunch break Inspection checked the alignment and found it had moved, the same thing happened again and someone checked the state of the tides which explained the movement. 

Next time as soon as the realignment was made it was drilled!  Something similar occurred much more recently; probably 1980s. 

Same thing happened again
BAE Radar were using one of the old JS Whites machine shops on the river bank to align radar antenna.  It was set up; next day checked and it had moved.  This was independently put down to misalignment caused by the tide. 

The object of the story being it should be expected the tilt meters to show movement on the slip.  

Wheelchair access and footpath
I can see the removal of the slip debris and shoring/piling of the remaining slip too expensive for a road just going to Castle Point. 

But surely a wheelchair accessible footpath can be made over the slip with full access to beaches!

Could volunteers do the work?
East Cowes has a strong Community Spirit.  In New Zealand if something like this slip happened, locals would band together; Tree Surgeons and people with Earth Moving Equipment would make the pathway and remove debris; all they would ask is the cost of fuel; they’d give time and equipment use free. 

Volunteers would do general labouring, path making, fencing and clean up.  Surely health and safety would be covered because everyone volunteered.

Unnecessarily restricted beach access
I notice now a road closed sign and locked steel gate is in place; so don’t expect the Town Council to be doing any thing soon.  In fact they have further unnecessarily restricted beach access!  Wonder why.

Could it be a long term plan to sell on the sea frontage for property development? 

After so many years of non usage; and that must be coming up soon; I suspect the land will be sold by our Council.  Hope I’m wrong, but remain a realist.

What are you going to do about it?
So what are the new prospective council candidates going to do about it? 

That is the question. The existing bunch have made it abundantly clear – nothing!

Image: © Mike Collins

Wednesday, 7th April, 2021 11:19am


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5 Comments on "Letter: What do election candidates propose to fix East Cowes landslip?"

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The big slip occurred in 2014, some years after Southern Water laid a new road from East Cowes Esplanade to the top of Spring Hill and their new unmanned Pumping Station. Until the intervention of Southern Water the forested land beneath the new Pumping Station had been remarkably stable! Here is something for ‘not me guv’ Southern Water and East Cowes Town Council of the ‘Coincidence Philosophy’… Read more »
Justin Case

I believe I can help answer your question. We have some previous, here on the south coast, with landslip issues and the almost disgusting haste with which the Island Council effect a solution. A sign has been erected just before the most recent landslip along Undercliff Drive that reads ‘Abandon all hope, ye who still have it’.

I trust Southern Water as much as the Council! Reported a leak to them a few years back on York Ave by turning into Osborne Road, repair patch had a trickle of water running out of it continually during a drought period! They sent someone round who said it was surface water on the car posted through my door – 2 weeks later they were digging it… Read more »
Have the Council been duped into believing the Southern Water Pumping/Drainage Station on Spring Hill had nothing to to with the mud slide? Part of the East Cowes Promenade is now closed for Public use! How much longer before the Council sell off this land to a developer? Every cause has a reaction. Southern Water argue the slip was a natural phenomena. The only Natural Phenomena about… Read more »

Have just heard the Council have made the Landslip a Confidential Issue! This gives credence to the Conspirational Theory!
This is supposed to be a Democracy. The reasons for the Slip should be open to a Public Enquiry.
Watch out for the For Sale notice anytime soon! A nice little earner for somebody!!