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Roadmap for Potter’s Bridge, on the B1127 near Southwold, drawn up by representatives from East Suffolk Council, Suffolk County Council and Environment Agency to solve issues





A roadmap for the maintenance and preservation of a flood-prone road has been drawn up after a meeting between councillors and agencies.

When Potter’s Bridge, on the B1127 near Southwold, floods, it impedes access in and out of the town for residents, as well as to the nearby James Paget Hospital.

Short, medium and long term strategies were agreed on by representatives from the Environment Agency (EA), Suffolk County Council (SCC), and East Suffolk Council (ESC) among other organisations in a meeting at Southwold Sailing Club last Wednesday.

Councillors David Beavan and Paul Ashton from ESC attended, alongside Michael Ladd from SCC and David Panther from Reydon Parish Council. Easton Bavents Ltd, landowners of the Easton Broad, were not invited to the meeting as it was an agency meeting.

Cllr Beavan said the situation had been stuck for four years due to issues between the landowner and the EA.

“Cars have been damaged, the road has been closed periodically. We worry that someone is going to hit the flood in the dark and get hurt,” he said.

A roadmap has been drawn up for the maintenance of Potter's Bridge, on the B1127 near Southwold. Picture: Submitted
A roadmap has been drawn up for the maintenance of Potter's Bridge, on the B1127 near Southwold. Picture: Submitted

“We must now look to warn people when the tide is high and to protect nesting bitterns and upstream reedbeds from damage by fluctuating sea water.”

The broad should be maintained at a safe level but the outfall gets blocked by high tides on the beach, which fills the broad and floods the road. This is relieved when the broad breaches into the sea.

There was a breach into the sea on Sunday afternoon, the fourth this winter.

David Beavan, deputy leader of East Suffolk Council, has said agencies must now look to warn people when the tide is high at Potter’s Bridge, on the B1127 near Southwold. Picture: Submitted
David Beavan, deputy leader of East Suffolk Council, has said agencies must now look to warn people when the tide is high at Potter’s Bridge, on the B1127 near Southwold. Picture: Submitted

The EA was notified the broad had reached too high a level on February 9, with it then giving the landowner seven days notice of its need to access the site. However, the landowner dug the outfall themselves on February 16.

Easton Bavents Ltd have stated their intentions to continue digging the outfall.

A spokesperson for Easton Bavents Ltd said: “The landowner was excluded from the meeting. We do not know what was discussed or agreed.

The Envionment Agency will be working with Suffolk County Council going forward to maintain the area at Potter’s Bridge, on the B1127 near Southwold. Picture: Environment Agency
The Envionment Agency will be working with Suffolk County Council going forward to maintain the area at Potter’s Bridge, on the B1127 near Southwold. Picture: Environment Agency

“When we queried the situation with David Beavan he informed us that the EA would not attend if we were there – that appeared irrational to us.

“We have recently obtained a Flood Risk Activity Permit (FRAP) from the EA and we did clear the outfall and will continue to do so going forward.”

In the short term, Highways will regularly clear drains and grips, with inspection work and clearing due for this summer as well. There will also be monthly checks on the road throughout winters.

The EA will ensure that the outfall is clear as soon as rain arrives and maintain it.

Solutions for the medium term include real time depth warning signs at Wrentham and Reydon crossroads at a cost of £23,000, encouraging farmers to extract excess rainfall to irrigation reservoirs up the Wren catchment and installing a sill at the bridge to maintain a safe depth above the bridge for wildlife.

In a joint statement, the EA and SCC said: “Both bodies are working collaboratively on options to help alleviate flood risk in the area which will be consulted on in due course and led by Suffolk County Council.

“In the short to medium term a commitment has been made to help alleviate the issues here by Suffolk Highways improving road signage, clearing and jetting highway drainage and cutting channels into the verge to help water drain away from the road when there is heavy rain or a tidal surge.”

“This will be supported by the Environment Agency’s ongoing efforts to keep the channel clear at the beach to allow water to flow to the sea.”