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Eastchurch resident Malcolm Newell starts an action group due to fears of cliff erosion threatening homes

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A furious pensioner says urgent action is needed to stop homes in Eastchurch disappearing over cliffs.

Malcolm Newell worries that if preventative work isn't carried out, up to 30 householders could be forced to abandon their properties.

He believes land is eroding to such an extent that a sewer and water main is about five metres from the precipice.

Malcolm Newell
Malcolm Newell

The 65-year-old, of Surf Crescent, said: “If that goes, three roads around here will be without drainage.

“This campaign will continue until we get some results. We need to protect our coastline.”

Mr Newell has started a residents’ action group involving people from Third Avenue, Surf Crescent and Dawn Rise, to rally the relevant authorities

He said an emergency meeting held at his house before Christmas was attended by representatives from the Environment Agency, Swale council, MP Gordon Henderson and fellow action group members.

"It’s worrying for us, but it affects everyone on the Island... Sea defences which used to protect our part of the beach are laying flat or washed away..." - Malcolm Newell

Having moved to his detached property in 2001 with wife, Jennifer, 72, the retired wood turner said he’d seen an “acre and a half of land” disappear over the cliffs.

He estimates his own property is about 100ft from the edge, but other residents are much closer.

“It’s worrying for us, but it affects everyone on the Island,” he said.

“This is a renowned beauty spot with holidaymakers and locals, as well as a renowned place for fishing.

“You used to be able to walk to Leysdown from Sheerness along the cliffs, but anyone who tries, ends up climbing down the cliffs and getting stuck.

“Sea defences which used to protect our part of the beach are laying flat or washed away.”

Mr Newell said although no action plan was formalised at last month’s meeting, he would be putting authorities “under pressure to get something done”.

“If it’s not, there will be nothing left here in a few years,” he said.

Mr Henderson said he had contacted Swale council regarding residents’ welfare after the Environment Agency had reiterated its “nonintervention” stance on the cliffs issue.

A spokesman for the authority said it was “monitoring the situation”, adding: “The council has contacted Southern Water to alert them to the erosion situation as there could be an impact on drainage and water supply to the area in the short term.”

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