A COUNCILLOR has spoken out against plans to spend almost £46 million on replacing wooden groynes with rocks.

Worthing Borough Council has agreed to draw up designs to replace the town’s 150-year-old timber breakwaters in a bid to prevent future flooding.

The plans would see rock groynes placed along the seafront from Ferring to Navarino Road, Worthing.

But Labour councillor Jim Deen said he was horrified at the decision to “completely change” the beach.

“No evidence has been presented that the problem of erosion of the beach is so significant that this extreme measure has been taken,” he said.

“What concerns me most is that the decision is being taken without any consultation to the public.

“The Tories who run the council are saying ‘this is what we’ve decided is going to happen and you’re going to put up with it’.”

At a meeting on Thursday councillors agreed to fund a £500,000 contract to design the new groynes.

If the plans go ahead, the flood defences are expected to cost almost £46 million, including replenishing shingle on the beach.

The council will contribute up to £4.8 million towards the fund, with the rest paid for by the Environment Agency.

But Cllr Deen called for the contract to be pulled until the impact of changing the groynes was known.

“If it means fewer visitors or more limited use by residents, that’s going to impact on businesses in the town,” he said.

“A major feature of the rock groynes is that they are higher and project further into the sea than the wooden ones.

“People won’t be able to walk along the beach in the way they do now.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and not a single person has been in favour.”

But council finance chief Councillor Kevin Jenkins said it would be “wholly irresponsible” for the council not to change the groynes.

He said: “I am sure that the majority of the residents in the town at risk of flooding would much prefer we ensure our coastal defence protection is robust.

“It would be wholly irresponsible for the council not to undertake these modelling works to ensure that the towns coastal protection is well maintained.

“The work would see our defences move from the typical wooden grounds to the more modern rock formations that we see in many coastal areas.

“By doing this it could significantly reduce or remove the council contribution towards the cost.”