‘I AM going to lose everything’.
Those are the words of Skipsea pensioner Lesley Watson who is watching powerless as the North Sea creeps ever closer to his front door.
Coastal erosion has been a problem at Skipsea and Ulrome for many years, but the rate at which the land is being swallowed up accelerated dramatically from 2008, claiming acres of farmland as well as several properties and roads.
This has left seafront residents wondering how much longer they will have a roof over their heads as there are no current plans to defend the coastline. Lesley, who has lived in his seafront property on Skipsea’s Green Lane since it was built in 1989, poured his savings into his home but is now worried he will face the end of his retirement in council housing.
He said: “When I bought this house it cost £52,000, and that was a lot of money back then, it was everything I had. They told me that it would last about 70-years before erosion became a problem and I thought, ‘well, I’ll be 130 by then’, so I bought it.
“Then in the last two years the sea has gone crazy and now I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to live here.
“I could end up in a council flat in Bridlington, but this is my home and I think it is disgusting that nothing is being done to protect it, or any of the 25 others along here.
“I have worked hard all my life, I spent my savings on this house and have never had hand-outs in my life, but it looks like I’m going to lose it all and nothing is being done stop it, which is the really disgusting part.
Lesley added: “There is a real need for housing, they are building them everywhere, so why are the council going to let 25 perfectly good properties fall into the sea? These are not wooden shacks, they are good buildings and they are our homes.”
Lesley, who has invested heavily in his property over the years, said he has been visited in the past by companies offering to defend the coastline in front of his house for £15,000.
“You never know who these people are though,” he said, “And I don’t know how anyone on the road could pay that sort of money.
“I am in poor health, I am crippled with arthritis and have a heart problem, if I was 60-years-old and not 81, I’d be out there fixing it myself, but there’s no way I can do that now.”
Lesley added his wife Dorothy died two-years ago after suffering from dementia which was made worse by her concerns over losing their home.
“She was always worrying about the house disappearing, she worried to death about it,” said Lesley.
Ian Cuming owns three properties on Green Lane and shares Lesley’s concerns that they will be swallowed up by the sea within the next few years.
He said: “I must have lost about 30ft of land from the front of the houses since I bought them in 2007, I’ve had to move the fence back twice.
“I feel annoyed the council are not doing anything to help. The front road has gone, the rubbish trucks won’t come up the back road so you have to traipse down it with your rubbish to get it picked up and we don’t even have any lighting down here. We feel like we’re being ignored, we pay our rates like everybody else but we don’t get anything for it and they’re going to let these houses disappear.”
Ian has bought a house in Atwick where he now lives and joked that he hoped his long-term tenants would stay in his Skipsea properties ‘until they fall into the sea’.