Hastings storm evacuee 'responsible for stabilising cliff'
- 19 February 2014
- From the section Sussex
A man who had to abandon his home due to storms has been told he is responsible for stabilising a crumbling cliff near his property.
Chris Paraskeva's home was damaged when a section of cliff in White Rock in Hastings, East Sussex, collapsed at the beginning of the month.
The council has told him he must commission remedial works if necessary.
Mr Paraskeva disputes the council's claim that he has some responsibility for the cliff.
His two-bedroom, Grade-II listed house was badly damaged by the collapse, which trapped a 96-year-old man inside a shop.
The man, who was uninjured, was freed after a couple of hours.
In a letter, Hastings Borough Council denied it was responsible for the cliff and asked Mr Paraskeva to urgently instruct engineers to assess its stability and, if necessary, commission remedial works.
The letter said: "From discussions with colleagues and the emergency services we are now aware that this is not the first time sections of the cliff in this area have collapsed, and given the very long period of wet and stormy weather that we are experiencing, we are concerned that there may be more rock falls to the rear of your property.
"The cliff is not owned by the council and we believe it is the responsibility of the land and property owners backing on to the cliff.
"In the circumstances, you are strongly advised to urgently seek specialist advice from suitably qualified structural engineers on the stability of the cliff to the rear of your property, to assess whether or not you need to commission remedial works to the cliff to safeguard your property and people occupying it."
Mr Paraskeva said the council's request is at odds with assurances by Prime Minister David Cameron that help would be on hand for people affected by the storms.
He disputed the local authority's claims that he has some responsibility for the cliff, insisting that Land Registry records show the rear boundary of his property ends at the cliff's base.
Mr Paraskeva, 61, an antiques dealer who is recovering from cancer treatment, said: "The council deny all responsibility for the cliff and they are saying it's mine.
"I would like them to help. They are not being at all sympathetic to people's problems round here. They are just saying, 'It's nothing to do with us'.
"Well, I believe it is, as do my neighbours either side."
Mr Paraskeva said he was waiting for insurance assessors to inspect the damage, but predicted he will not be covered for the rock fall.
A council spokesman said the authority had taken legal advice and been advised that the cliffs were not its responsibility, but that of the property owner in front of the cliffs.
He said: "This is not uncommon, and there are other examples where I know this is the case in Hastings.
"We acted immediately to provide those directly affected by the cliff fall, both property owners and tenants, with temporary accommodation until they could safely reoccupy them, and met with many of them soon after the cliff fall to explain the position, indeed I was at that meeting myself."