Calls for inquiry into ‘fail’ of West Kirby sea wall

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The chair of the committee which gave planning permission for the newly constructed £20 million sea defence in West Kirby has called for a “full and frank investigation and explanation” after businesses and properties on South Parade were flooded during a storm yesterday.

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), Cllr Stuart Kelly said answers are needed from Wirral Council and the Environment Agency as to why it “failed so spectacularly” during 50mph winds combined with a spring tide of 10.1 metres.

He added: “The questions to be answered are how it compared with the tidal surges of 2013 where there was widespread infrastructure damage and internal flooding to residential and business properties.

“Where [SIC] the weather conditions similar in terms of wind and tidal heights. How many properties were flooded (we know the cafe [Tanskey’s] was hit). Why when the surge subsided did it take so long to release the trapped water back to sea either via drainage or simply reopening the gates.

“These aren’t unreasonable questions to understand whether in the circumstances the sea defence defended adequately or not.”

The flood led to cars floating along South Parade, staff being rescued by the RNLI from Tanskey’s cafe bar, and damage to boats in the yard at West Kirby Sailing Club.

On our social media pages, many people have questioned why there is no way for the water that washes over the wall to drain back into the Marine Lake.

However, Wirral Council said the primary purpose of the wall is to remove energy from the waves. In fairness, there is some evidence that this was the case – a resident at Hilbre Court told us that, unlike in previous storms, their boundary wall was undamaged.

Storm damage to the prom (photo credit: David Edwards)

Council Leader, Cllr Paul Stuart, told the Liverpool Echo he would be asking for the drainage issues to be addressed and for it to be explained to residents what is likely happen in similar weather conditions in the future.

Chris Riley, vice president of West Kirby Sailing Club, told Granada Reports: “I’ve lived here the best part of 40 years and in that time this is the fourth time I’ve seen it this deep on the promenade and in the boat yard.

“The wind’s been very strong and the tide is the highest tides of the year. It’s piled over the wall and come over the sea defences. It’s disappointing to see them damaged in this way.”

“A lot of the boats are on chocks and, given the volume of water, the only place it can go is into the yard. It has raised the water here by a foot and a half.

“I know boats are meant to float but once they start floating around the boat yard, it causes lots of problems.”

Hoylake and Meols Conservative councillor, Andrew Gardner, said the incident vindicates concerns that were raised by local politicians about the scheme when it was being devised.

In a video on Facebook, he said: “Obviously there’s huge questions to be asked about what happened yesterday. It’s completely unacceptable that a £20 million infrastructure scheme to stop flooding apparently seems to create flooding.

“We’ll be asking those questions of the Environment Agency [and] Wirral Council. Yesterday was not the highest of tides, it was not the worst of storms, so it looks like this is going to happen more in West Kirby, that would be a clear and logical conclusion.”

Top photo credit: Kit Austin