Dorset

Boscombe surf reef payment decision postponed

Boscombe seafront
Image caption The reef is deemed to be "sub-standard"

A decision on whether to continue withholding payment for Europe's first artificial surf reef until improvement work is carried out has been postponed.

The reef, which enhances the waves off Boscombe in Dorset, has been criticised for not working as well as it should.

A group set up to find a solution to the £3m reef's performance and to protect Bournemouth council's financial interests made the proposal.

ASR Ltd has had £150,000 withheld until it can improve the reef's performance.

But the the company said it needed the money to pay for the improvement work.

A council spokeswoman said the cabinet had been due to make a decision on how to proceed at a meeting held earlier, but decided to postpone it to allow for further negotiations with ASR.

She said the decision was now likely to be taken next month.

Failings denied

If the council cabinet eventually approves the plan, ASR would be given £77,500 only when work is finished.

Following another successful review six months later, the second half of the £150,000 would be released.

The reef - which ran over budget and suffered a series of delays - was created to improve surfing conditions using 55 giant sand-filled bags which are 225m (740ft) out at sea.

The bags are sausage-shaped and range in length from 50ft (15m) to 230ft (70m).

But the reef was deemed "sub-standard" by the council after a specialist report found it had not achieved all of its objectives.

The New Zealand-based creator denied the reef failed and said it was only one of the criteria - the wave lengths - which it had not met.

The task force, made up of four councillors, agreed with ASR over a solution to improve the reef's performance, but still had doubts it would be successful.

To improve the reef, experts have suggested placing four bags underwater against the base of the reef to create a more gentle slope and a "better managed" wave.

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