Humberston Fitties 'tragedy' fear if residents win 50-week war
COUNCILLORS charged with the fate of the Humberston Fitties fear a "tragedy" could happen if campaigners win their war for 50-week occupancy.
In the summing-up of a two-day hearing into the fight, elected members of the Humberston Fitties Committee told an audience of 100 Fitties residents and campaigners from the Fitties Owners Residents' Association Bungalow (Forab), they were struggling to decide what is best after hearing warnings from Environment Agency experts that put the Fitties at a one-in-75-years chance of flooding.
As reported, Forab argues the flood risk is not as great, quoting figures from its own independent assessment by Three Counties Risk Assessment, that it claims puts them at a one-in-1,000 years risk.
Forab has won the support of Councillor John Fenty (Humberston and Waltham, Cons), but others on the committee expressed their fears that "a tragedy could happen" if they were allowed to stay overnight during January and February – the worst time of year for storms – following a site visit.
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Chairman of the committee, Councillor Ray Sutton (Freshney, Lab), said: "I am not an expert, I could say I was scared stiff by what I saw this morning, including the erosion of the sand banks. But we will not be the ones making the decision. It is a planning committee decision."
Councillor Andrew De Freitas (Park, Lib Dem), said: "The Fitties is a holiday park and if it is extended to 50 weeks I find it difficult to see how it can still be a holiday park. It is an area people go to spend their spare time and with 50 weeks it may become more a residential estate.
"I understand people are passionate and want to stay there as much as possible but I am bothered, as a local councillor, that I may be part of a decision that may mean there could be a tragedy. I have to think about how I would feel if I am partly responsible."
The main line of defence for a potential tidal surge that could flood the Fitties is a sand dune which is maintained by North East Lincolnshire Council. At the hearing, Agency coastal advisor Mark Robinson read from NELC's own flood risk assessment – which also puts it at a one-in-1,000 years chance of flooding – in which it states there is a "significant risk" of the sea defence wall collapsing and the Fitties flooding. Councillor Ray Oxby (Lab, South) echoed the concerns of his colleagues. He added: "I find the community spirit at the Fitties very reassuring and it should be commended.
"The critical factor in this is the flood risk. We have had a lot of debate about this and we should not look at this as individuals but as a statutory body. It's our job to keep people safe."
Forab suggests a condition of the 50-week open season to be the implementation of an evacuation plan and a round-the-clock flood watch team.
Chairman of Forab Paul Harwood said: "The view of the EA is unsubstantiated. They are in direct conflict with the council's own views. We are an enlightened community who looked at the risk and have accepted with the proper, mitigating measures, the risk is reduced."
A recommendation from the committee will now be sent to Cabinet.