A council operation to move troublesome shingle on Saltburn beach as part of works costing £15,000 has been labelled a waste of time and money.

Redcar and Cleveland Council said it had been “repeatedly exhausting” staff resources by removing shingle swept onto the Lower Promenade in Saltburn after high tides combined with strong winds.

The local authority said businesses along the promenade had sustained damage with some “inundated” with sea water and it had moved material accumulated against the sea wall.

Saltburn ward councillor Philip Thomson said while the exercise, undertaken last month by contractors, had “merit”, it had simply moved the shingle 20 yards further down the beach and within three weeks natural maritime movement had returned the material back to where it was previously located.

The council said, while it was acknowledged the shingle had returned, the works were beneficial to local businesses and visitors and allowed it to undertake needed repairs to the sea wall.

In a question to the council, Cllr Thomson said it was a “decades-old issue” and he wished to see a report advocating the works, and asked what further action was now being proposed.

Cllr Thomson said: “My concern was that the local authority undertook a project that any lay person would have questioned the credibility of even considering doing it.”

He said he wanted to understand the rationale for “simply uplifting shingle from one point on the beach and moving it to another short distance to another point with no effect whatsoever but incurring costs in the interim”.

Cllr Thomson added: “Hundreds of people walk the beach every week and they must have perhaps looked on with some incredulity at all of this effort going into moving into material in the first instance.

“It does have merit because what has happened over recent years is that with high seas and force of tidal movement, more shingle has accumulated over the sea wall.

“The result is that there has been a ramp coming up from the beach onto the Lower Promenade, which has facilitated the shingle having easy access to the promenade.

“But simply to move it 20 yards down the beach and expect it to remain there has no logic whatsoever.

“The movement should have been to another site further along the beach so that if it was washed up again it would be against a cliff face and not the Lower Promenade.”

Asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service if the operation had been a waste of time, Cllr Thomson replied: “Yes and money”.

In a response issued to the independent councillor, Councillor Carl Quartermain, the cabinet member for highways and transport, said the council had spent £15,000 on the scheme, which included all labour, plant, specialist materials and the repairs to the sea wall.

He said: “The exercise was undertaken due to the council repeatedly exhausting staff resources by removing shingle/cobbles from the Lower Promenade after high tides combined with strong winds. 

“The businesses along the promenade sustained damage and some were inundated with sea water.  “The highways department took the opportunity to move the material from the sea wall which in its current form was acting as a ramp. 

“This was allowing shingle and sea water to easily access the Lower Promenade, by removing the materials from the sea wall, this allowed the wall to act as a defence and dissipate the wave energy. 

“The works also included the re-pointing of the sea wall and repairs to coping stones at various points along the sea wall.”

Cllr Quartermain said the council had identified required remedial work to the sea wall following a storm last year which resulted in an inspection carried out in November.

He said: “Whilst it is acknowledged that the material has returned, these works were beneficial to the local service providers, visitors to the area and allowed the council to undertake the remedial works to the sea wall. 

“Messages have been received from business owners thanking the authority for the efforts ahead of a particularly high spring tide and strong easterly wind. 

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“They confirmed that they sustained no damage during this event, however, had sustained damage during previous events of lesser severity. 

“It should be noted that the material can’t be removed from the beach.”

The cabinet member said that a beach management plan was currently being drawn up for the area, adding: “Once complete we will look to implement the recommendations to ensure the effective management of our beach in this area. 

“This may introduce a regular beach reprofiling operation, similar to ones that are undertaken by other councils on the eastern coast.”