Due to a weekend of rough and stormy weather, the Gig Club's activities had to be curtailed. Over the weekend the coastguard was called out to a missing person believed to be in the West Bay area. However, I am pleased to report that they were stood down as the team arrived at the coastguard station. The person had been located.

Between Saturday and Monday the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds conducted, with the public's assistance, this year's Big Garden Birdwatch, now in its 40th year. Whilst we have seen a loss of half our house sparrows and three quarters of our starling population during that time, the blue tit population has risen by 20 per cent and the wood pigeon population by a massive 800 per cent. Some of those wood pigeons have certainly made their homes locally.

There is an update on the proposed works on the east and west beaches. My informant says the works are expected to receive formal planning permission in a few weeks. The Environment Agency had intended to construct East Beach before July and West Beach after August. However, their contractors have come up with a programme which will save both time and funds.

During the contractors work at West Bay, they will operate under the Considerate Contractors Scheme, which ensures they attend to their obligations to the community in terms of minimising the impact and disturbance that might otherwise be created. The shortened programme will mean that public access to both East and West Beaches will have to be restricted during the period April to June, and probably for a shorter period during March. The Environment Agency intend to recruit beach marshals from the local community to help manage public access. Apparently this idea has worked well on schemes elsewhere in Dorset and in neighbouring Devon. It will take a special type of person to fulfil that role.

Contractors' site offices will be located in the East Beach car park, with a smaller set up near West Beach. The contractor plans to close the Esplanade to vehicles with effect from February 18 to early July, with pedestrian access maintained. This will enable both the beach works and the construction of a new wall.

They seem reasonably confident that all the work will be over by July and the works themselves will bring added visitor numbers to the Bay to watch the works. We will have to wait and see.