AN appeal for witnesses has been launched – but not by the police.

In a bizarre twist in the long running surf reef saga, the appeal has come from council bosses.

They want to know if anyone has witnessed a boat colliding with the £3m malfunctioning structure.

The reef, constructed by New Zealand firm ASR, was closed in March following a routine inspection which found one of the bags has deflated leaving it in a dangerous state.

In April divers came across apparent damage to the reef from a boat propeller blade.

The council is making an insurance claim and has asked for witnesses to come forward.

Tony Williams, the council’s executive director for environment and economy said: “We believe there is evidence of a boat strike to the reef and are filing an insurance claim on that basis.”

He said the evidence shows one bag has been damaged beyond repair and the adjacent bag sustained propeller damage.

The council said the indications are the reef was struck by a twin-engined boat.

Contractor ASR is due to carry out work to improve the wave and hopes to fix the damaged areas at the same time.

Mr Williams added: “We plan to start works as soon as possible and will let people known when we have a definite date.

“It would urge all boat users to make sure they are familiar with the rules of the sea before setting out on the water, and in particular observe the buoys marking the reef.”

Witnesses are urged to email