A SOUTHWICK business is hoping to tap into new Government funding to help repair sea defences after the winter storms.
High tides and strong winds at Kingston Beach in December and January dragged shingle away and ripped apart a ramp and patio area at Sussex Marine Watersports, in Albion Street.
It means the ramp can no longer be used to launch sport boats and fishing boats, although jet skis, which are the main part of the business, can still get out.
Director Paul Richards said: “We are only a small business and we are trying to support a local sport. Having a patio area means having the facilities and having the ramps means stability for the business in the future.
“The storms started to hit back in October, so we had been trying to take some action by putting the shingle back but one night, it was just gone.”
The site has been a boatyard for hundreds of years and the jet ski business was opened by Paul and co-director Garry Beadle on December 23, 2001.
They spent £30,000 putting in a new ramp because the previous one was in a bad state of repair.
Mr Richards said: “As the Government is making this support available, we just wanted a little bit to help a small, local business.
“Jet skis are a sensitive subject but we feel we have created a control for it. We know the people who are using them here.”
East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton visited on Friday to assess the damage and offer advice.
He explained the Government was providing money for sea defence measures and he said he felt the firm had a good case.
“Grants of up to £5,000 are available and the scheme goes live in April,” he added. “It will be run by local councils.”
Mr Beadle said the storms had broken the fence and started to undermine the main site at the top of the beach.
He added: “It took us a week to clear the shingle from the yard, it was so deep. It came right over the top of the fence.
“I have put 20 tons of rubble in the gap left by the shingle, which was about 8ft deep.”
Mr Beadle said the long-term aim was to develop the site and put in a new office and workshops, to replace buildings that are more than a hundred years old.
He added: “It is a very seasonal business, so to put in a new building is a lot of money to us.”
The company sells and repairs jet skis on site.