The East Cowes community has pledged more than £10,000 in just over a week towards the town’s Esplanade and Landslip Community Project.
The scheme has been backed by East Cowes Town Council, and originally dates to 2018 when the IW Council set-up local workshops in order to identify local projects which could be undertaken by a community.
The Esplanade at East Cowes has suffered two landslips in the last six years. The most recent in 2018 resulted in the Isle of Wight Council putting up Heras fencing along a significant section of the Esplanade, which significantly reduced the space on the sea front.
Phase 1 of the project is to tidy up the area and make it more accessible for the community, as it is not deemed to be a structural remedy which would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Local resident, Sharon Lake, a member of the East Cowes Community Partnership, is leading the project which has seen volunteers clock up 140 voluntary hours tidying up the area.
The volunteers have cleared blocked drains, gullies and accumulated rubbish and removed weeds and moss from the road. A local architect/structural engineer has also given up his free time to draw up plans which have been submitted and agreed by IWC.
Sharon said: “We’re in a much better place now that we know that the community is behind us. We had an absolutely fantastic response to our Facebook appeal with £10,000 being donated in less than a week.
“We have also been supported by East Cowes Town Council who have given us £5,000. As well as this, we have applied for a couple of funding bids.
“We are well on our way to securing the estimated £30,000 it will take to complete the project – with the support and donations we have had from the community and local businesses I am in no doubt that we will smash this target.
“We had 140 gabion baskets at £50 and 20 seats available at £125 each for sponsorship. All seats were pledged within 24 hours and we actually have a waiting list for an additional 25 – it’s a shame we don’t have a longer esplanade!
“It shows just how passionate the local people are about this project. We just need to get risk assessments and a Covid-safe programme of works signed off by IWC and then we can start putting up the gabion basket wall and seating. Hopefully, this will start later in the spring.
“This is an inclusive community project. We are still looking for volunteers to help us. For example, I know there are retired boat builders in the community as well as chippies who could provide us with valuable skills.
“Although we have our Facebook page – East Cowes Esplanade and Landslip and Community Project – we will be putting up information boards on the Esplanade shelter over the next few weeks which explain exactly what we are aiming to do.
“Not everyone is on social media, so those people who walk up and down the Esplanade each day can see what we are trying achieve and find out how they can engage with the project as well.
“We hope to start work in the spring. We don’t plan on working during the summer season as the area is very busy but we would like to get it finished later in the year. It’s all very exciting for the town.”
Anyone who would like more information, or to volunteer for the project or sponsor a gabion for £50, email Sharon on email@example.com or join the Facebook group: East Cowes Esplanade and Landslip and Community Project.