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Natural or unnatural environment?

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When you are trying to attract the tourists upon whom the Sidmouth economy depends, it is important to show how you are different from other resorts. One of Sidmouth’s big draws is its geology, the red sandstone cliffs have been famous for hundreds of years: but they are now unfortunately attracting press attention by being ‘different’ for the wrong reasons.

This Daily Telegraph article, following on from our problems with the Fatberg, is not showing us in a good light. One has to ask why the Council has behaved in this way.

When the recent work was done to stabilise the cliffs at the walkway the grey concrete looked awful against the sandstone. At previous times when stabilising work has been done the concrete patching has been studded with pebbles, which though incongruous still gave a slightly natural feel, but this time the concrete was left bare and grey. Given that there are a range of colour additives which can be used in concrete to give precise control over colour, it is surprising that the concrete reinforcement wasn’t colour matched in the first place. Additives can even be bought from B&Q or Jewsons, and you can colour match exactly if you take the time to use several premixed colours in combination.

However, the contractors used by the District Council chose not to take that route; and instead someone spray painted the cliffs with what looks like a house colour red. As this is only a surface coating I am sure it will wear off over winter, perhaps then we can get a skim of coloured cement added? Admittedly a skim will eventually wear off too which is why the whole of the concrete should have been coloured.

Sidmouth tries to present an up market image but at the moment there are some areas which need attention! Perhaps designers, or geologists, or heritage specialists should be consulted as well as specialist engineers when stabilisation work is carried out? Someone who is concerned only with structural matters needs to have their attention drawn to wider implications of their work, they are not getting paid to consider everything which might be important to the town.

So if EDDC does not have the necessary staff because of funding cuts perhaps they need to reach out to knowledgeable volunteers? Or Sidmouth Town Council could do so?

It is not fair to charge high rates and then skimp on workmanship, either this is a ‘premier’ seaside town or it isn’t.