Blow for cliff-top couple leading life on the edge

THEY have a magnificent view but it's one a couple have come to dread more than relish.

With the North Sea relentlessly approaching their bungalow, Dave and Anne Willie know a move is inevitable in the next few years. But despite being just 35m from the edge, East Riding Council says they are not eligible for a 1.2m scheme to help people threatened by coastal erosion.

The couple, who live in Waxholme, just north of Withernsea, have already shifted once back from the sea, building the two-bedroom bungalow in the southern edge of their property after their farmhouse, bought for a knockdown price in May 1971, started to go over.

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The Defra-funded Pathfinder scheme offers a number of options, including the council picking up demolition costs and relocating people, usually to a council property. It was also meant to pilot a "buy and lease back option" for those whose properties would come under threat by around 2025.

Mr Willie said: "This last five years it's done over 5m a year and I am convinced this house will be over the cliff well before 2025. You can feel the vibrations through the house as the waves hit the cliffs.

They phoned me up and said I didn't fit into their timeline, but they can't just sit there looking at their charts and saying what has happened since 1860 – something has altered."

East Riding Council says to date it had spent 260,000 on various packages, demolishing 42 caravans, shacks and dwellings, and financially assisting 27 households in villages like Aldbrough, including paying for demolition, relocation and help with buying essential white goods and furnishings for their new properties.

The authority has now been told it can continue the scheme beyond the original one-year time limit. It said three households including the Willies, had contacted them about lease and buy back, but none were eligible.

A statement added: "In all cases, with their agreement, we have kept their contact details on file so that if their situation or the criteria for this element changes we can contact them to discuss what support we might be able to provide.

"From its inception the Pathfinder has prioritised the provision of support to those facing the greatest risk from coastal erosion and this continues to be the case."